How can you write a fight scene without actually showing the fight?

heywriters:

Show vs tell. 

Tell us the fight happened e.g. “There was a brief tussle of which Ricky was the winner” or “Jim threw the first punch and regretted it for the next three minutes as Ricky proceeded to wipe the floor with him. It was…sad, to watch.”

Another way is to show the build-up and the ending to the fight while skipping over the  middle completely. Here’s a scene from Regenerate where I did this:

The short one forcefully throws the basketball
in my direction.

I catch it. Don’t
get angry
. I roll it back.

He throws the ball at me
again. “Hey, Crazy Girl I’m talking—”

I hit it back right in his stomach. He groans
and bends over, and there’s a collective sucking in of breath.

It’s
no time at all before I’m forcibly removed from my seat on the kid’s chest, a
horde of ogle-eyed youth watching and pointing the entire time.

You can also embrace the problem the last asker had and make the scene mostly dialogue, though I would argue that unlike what we see on film not that much dialogue goes on during a physical altercation, at least not between the aggressors. In which case, you can write the fight as being observed by two bystander characters i.e. commentary.

When a conflict reaches “That’s it I’m punching/killing you” stage, there’s less motivation for verbal communication unless one of them is trying to talk sense into the other. If there is, it’s usually incoherent shouting and goading. This is also because the energy and breath needed to speak is being put into the fight, the same way dancing and singing simultaneously can be challenging.

Hope something here helps.


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