A fight scene, 1,324 words

Mith

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#1
I've always held the view that writing physical fight scenes is not really my best skill, and yet my WiP contains rather a few of them. This particular scene appears at the end of chapter 6, so there's been a chapters worth of lead up to it. I'd like to know how it reads/flows and what more can be done to improve it. It is still in first draft at the moment.

Eviscerate it as brutally as you may.

*******​

‘The doors are open, let’s pop in and say hello,’ I shouted over the noise.

I didn’t wait for a response, I leaped forward, blade held high screaming like a banshee. Just inside the door was a blood pool, I landed right on it. My feet briefly did an imitation of a cartoon run, and then I hit the tiles like a floored boxer. I lost my grip on my machete and it skittered away out of reach. Crap, that wasn’t in the plan. The jab I felt to my ribs made me remember I’d picked two machetes up, so all wasn’t lost. I reached inside, grabbed the hilt of the spare and finally looked around me.

It seemed like the world’s supply of candles was in this one room, in disorderly rows along the walls, stuck to the walls and in an ornate chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. The flickering flames cast off shadows that made the house of horrors scene laid out in front of me look like it had been lifted straight out of Hell. The floor was littered with bodies; from the blood they were all fresh. Speaking of blood, it was everywhere. The channels between the tiles were filled with it, there were puddles of it throughout the room. I was sitting in one, it was still warm. There were even streaks on the walls, like somebody had tried to finger paint with the stuff. My eyes stretched wide trying to take it all in.

The centrepiece of this party of butchery, the stars of gore if you will, were the red eyed figures with mouths like Great White sharks that sat cross-legged amidst the pools of blood. Their lower jaws were painted red and both red and black stains ruined their otherwise fine clothing. Their eyes shone with insane delight and I realised they were blood-crazed. Most vamps can pass among humans fairly easily, the double rows of teeth were retractable and contacts took care of the eyes. Then there were vamps like these, crazed by the narcotic enjoyment they took from blood, feral even to their own kind, they needed to be put down by any means possible. All of this I took in in the few seconds it took to rise into a crouch. Five pairs of eyes fixed on me, burning with madness and insatiable hunger.

Through the other door Mike appeared with hate spitting from his lips. That split their attention. He stalked toward them with a machete in either hand. I slowly rose from my crouch, my blade shining wickedly in the candlelight. There was a niggling feeling at the back of my mind, something was wrong. Shouldn’t there have been six vampires?

Oh s**t, I thought.

Something hammered in to the small of my back. I flew forward and hit the deck again. My head came to rest in a pool of blood, I felt it coating my hair, I shuddered with the grossness of it. I kept hold of the blade this time. The five seated bloodsuckers exploded into life. Moving with preternatural speed they converged on us. Two jumped for me, the other three thought to turn Mike into a tasty morsel. I heard him curse and then the air thrummed with the sound of his blades. I couldn’t pay any attention to his plight though, I had my own vamps to contend with. They leered at me, blood dripping from their teeth, hands extended in front of them, each fingernail like a tiny sharp knife. I came to my feet with blade swinging. I didn’t hit anything, but I gained myself enough time to put my back to a wall. There were two in front of me, I couldn’t see the one who’d hit me first. Yeah that wasn’t a good sign. They advanced on me, wide mouths grinning.

‘Going to drink your blood little mortal,’ the one to my left smirked.

‘Slurp you down like a can of coke,’ the other said, through a bloody grin.

Ok, that was not a disturbing visual at all, honestly. I gulped, f*****g crazy, creepy vampires. I grinned right back at them though, showing all my teeth.

‘F**k you toothy,’ I snarled and jumped forward bringing the blade down in a sharp chop. The vamp to my left suddenly became a permanent southpaw, its right hand flopped loosely, still attached to the arm but only by a thin strip of skin. It hissed its pain at me, spattering my face with blood spittle. If I got out of this one alive my shower was going to be seeing some serious action.

I jumped back, evading another swiping claw. I could feel sweat pooling at my temples and trickling down my forehead. Facing off with vamps was definitely a good way to burn some calories off, I doubted I’d be suggesting it to the health nuts though. Right vamp shrieked in my face like an angry steam kettle and dashed in to attack. I swayed away from its knife like nails and brought my knee up into its crotch. It hissed out a gargly, wheezing noise, its face wrinkled in pain. I shoved it away and swung the blade a second later. Its head flew from its body to hit the ground with a solid crunch. One down, yes! The euphoria was short-lived. I went for the second vamp, if I could end this quick I could get to Mike’s aid. The b*****d bloodsucker had other ideas. I flicked the blade in a quick chop towards its neck. The vamp seemed to flow around the swing and before I could react it backhanded me across the jaw. My head rang like a bell and I slammed back in to the wall. My legs wobbled like jelly and I slid down until my arse touched floor.

‘Time’s up mortal. I’m hungry.’

I tried to push myself back to my feet, I held the blade in front of me in a rather pathetic defensive gesture. I heard it snort laughter, right before it kicked the machete from my hand. My wrist went numb, the kick carried on through, striking me in the chest and slamming me back against the wall. My head bounced off brick and star constellations paraded across my vision. I could feel the fight draining out of me, this was going to be a bitterly disappointing way to go, beaten by a no-mark vamp with a blood addiction. I somehow managed to summon up one last surge of will. I flicked a whip of flame at its ankles, it kicked it apart contemptuously. I may as well have tried beating it to death with a feather. B*****d magical immunity.

It bent down and grabbed me by the front of my shirt and yanked me up. My feet dangled an inch off the ground and I stared down into its gore coated face. It opened its sharks mouth in a wide grin, its double row of fangs promising a grisly end for me. The face of the sixth vamp swam into view over the shoulder of the one who held me. It seemed to get up close very fast. With a crunch its head smashed into the wall next to me. The vamp holding me let me drop, its face showing stunned disbelief. It spun around to face the new threat, claws extended for a vicious slash. Its head struck me in the chin. Yet again I was watching a parade of stars. This was not turning out to be my best ever evening.

Another head appeared in my field of vision, purple and pink hair and a face that looked too innocent to be in this slaughterhouse. It was also a damn familiar face, and not one I’d expected to see again so soon. She grinned at me, flicked the blood off the twin blades she bore and saluted me.
 

TheEndIsNigh

...Prepare Thyself
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#2
I can be picky. If you want I will give it a "going over" but for now :-

In my opinion there's too many

like a....

in there.

Also for me to maintain the comedic effect you need more dialog in those walls of text paragraphs , although the dialog that is there seems OK - just more of it for me.

Sometimes you state the obvious which detracts from the overall result

e.g.

beaten by a no-mark vamp with a blood addiction

a vampire with a blood addictions seems redundant to me. (just an opinion)

As an action scene, to me the over description and side comments slow it down too much.

The repeated reference to shark's mouths drag me out of the scene and into open water. These are vampires they have big gobs and lots of teeth - Dislocating jaws open maws primeval teeth would be better IMO.

I'm not sure if the site has edited the bastards and fucks, but if it was you, I'd leave it to the site.
(actually seeing what the site does with that line will tell all)

Times up I'm hungry line - good but the object of the exercise is thirst for blood not food.

It all has potential, but I think it needs work IMO.

Hope I helped

Tein
 

Joshua Jones

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#3
Hmmm... I think I see what you were going for with the "vampire with a blood addiction" line; it sounds like, in your universe, eating blood has something of a euphoric effect, but vampires are able to eat other things, and as such are not compelled to eat blood. I assume that is shown earlier, so it doesn't really bother me too much here.

I do, however, agree that there are too many similes throughout. You don't always need to signal your figures of space with "like a" or some synonym thereabouts. And, you could probably drop a few figures of speech in this without loosing much. The same goes for side comments; when one is in mortal danger, they tend not to think of getting a shower.

What most caught me, however, was how often you used the same sentence structure. Take a look at this selection when I change the format a bit:

I jumped back, evading another swiping claw.
I could feel sweat pooling at my temples and trickling down my forehead.
Facing off with vamps was definitely a good way to burn some calories off, I doubted I’d be suggesting it to the health nuts though.
Right vamp shrieked in my face like an angry steam kettle and dashed in to attack.
I swayed away from its knife like nails and brought my knee up into its crotch.
It hissed out a gargly, wheezing noise, its face wrinkled in pain.
I shoved it away and swung the blade a second later.
Its head flew from its body to hit the ground with a solid crunch.

Do you see how many times the sentences begin with "I" or "it"? The problem with this is it gives the cadence of a list, rather than pushing along the action. Try changing around the sentence structure in some of these sentences to improve the flow a bit.

The other thing that really stood out to me is that I really couldn't get a feel for this character. Was she a trained, skilled vampire hunter who got in over her head? Was he a 15 year old wannabe who brought his friend in with garden tools in an attempt to be a real hunter? Somewhere inbetween? And, because we don't know how skilled he/she is, it is hard to gauge the danger of the situation. Presumably, the "marked" vampires are more dangerous than the "no-mark" ones, but beyond that, we know precious little. Some of that will undoubtedly be explored in the context, but the part that I am critiquing here is that he/she doesn't show any unique traits within the fight. If the protagonist is a rookie, panic should set in as soon as things start going south. If a trained professional, I would expect to see quite a bit more confidence, preparedness, and both tactical and martial prowess, not to mention a better weapon selection.

If this seems a bit too critical, please note that I think you could develop this into a solid bit of urban fantasy, and my first drafts never see the light of day because they would not only be evicerated, but then hung prominently by their own entrails as a warning to others not to follow in the same follow. Just work a bit more on the flow and develop a bit more characterization in and through the fight, and you will be doing well.
 

CTRandall

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#4
I pretty much agree with the previous comments. The repetition of similar phrases and similes makes it a bit bumpy and slows it down. For instance, from "It seemed like the world’s supply of candles was in this one room..." through the end of the next paragraph, you keep repeating "blood" over and over. I know you're painting a scene (literally, in this case!) but it makes the pace drag.

I think you could cut much of the description and asides out and end up with a punchier piece. Keeping just one or two good asides would likely make them more effective.

My only other issue was having the description of how addicted vamps differ from regular vamps in this scene. That felt like info dumping in the middle of your fight. Is it not possible to give the reader that info somewhere in the previous six chapters? That would help streamline this scene and keep the pace up.

It does have good potential, especially as an early draft.
 

Mith

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#5
Cheers guys! You've all given me a lot to think on here. You know, I read through the piece prior to posting and the similes just never even registered with me, guess it is true that a fresh pair of eyes can pick out what you never see yourself. I'll prune them relentlessly before submitting a revised version at some point this week.

@TheEndIsNigh If it's not too much trouble I'd appreciate you giving it a going over.
 

TheEndIsNigh

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All just IMO

You did ask :)


I've always held the view that writing physical fight scenes is not really my best skill, and yet my WiP contains rather a few of them. This particular scene appears at the end of chapter 6, so there's been a chapters worth of lead up to it. I'd like to know how it reads/flows and what more can be done to improve it. It is still in first draft at the moment.

Eviscerate it as brutally as you may.

*******​

‘The doors are open, let’s pop in and say hello,’ (although I like the sentiment of the "pop in" as an opening line it causes the reader to stop and think what the hell am I getting involved with. Save it for later when you've established the voice more) I shouted over the noise.

I didn’t wait for a response, (obvious given the leaping) I leaped forward, blade held high screaming like a banshee. Just inside the door was a blood pool and I landed right in it. Sliding forward I ended up on my arse in a streak of congealed gore. I landed right on it. My feet briefly did an imitation of a cartoon run, and then I hit the tiles like a floored boxer. To make things worse I lost my the grip on my machete and it skittered away out of reach. (although technically machetes are one of those blades that usually have a strap to prevent this) "Crap," I shouted. That wasn’t in the plan. Fortuantely, the pain in my side jab I felt to my ribs made me remember I’d picked two machetes up, reminded me I had a spare, so all wasn’t lost. I reached for the handle inside, grabbed the hilt of the spare and finally for it stood and looked around me.

It seemed like the world’s supply of candles was in this one room, in disorderly rows along the walls, stuck to the walls and in an ornate chandelier in the middle of the ceiling (slows it down). The room was lit by a few candles but even in the dim light the The flickering flames cast off shadows that made the house of horrors scene laid out in front of me look like it had been lifted straight out of Hell. The floor was littered with bodies; from the blood they were all fresh. Speaking of and there was blood. A lot of it. , it was everywhere. The channels between the tiles were filled covered with it, there were puddles of it throughout the room. I was sitting in one, it was still warm. There were even arterial sprays and streaks of the the stuff on the walls, like somebody had tried to finger paint with the stuff. My eyes stretched wide trying to take it all in.
Which boils down to something like :-

‘The doors are open,' I shouted, over the noise.

I leaped forward, blade held high screaming like a banshee. Just inside the door was a blood pool and I landed right in it. Sliding forward I ended up on my arse in a streak of congealed gore. To make things worse I lost my the grip on my machete and it skittered away out of reach.
"Crap," I shouted. That wasn’t in the plan. Fortuantely, the pain in my side reminded me I had a spare, so all wasn’t lost. I reached for the handle stood and looked around.

The room was lit by a few candles but even in the dim light the scene laid out in front of me looked like it had been lifted straight out of Hell. The floor was littered with bodies and there was blood. A lot of it. the tiles were covered with it, there were puddles of it throughout the room. There was arterial sprays and streaks of the the stuff on the walls, like somebody had tried to create a crimsom masterpiece. My eyes stretched wide trying to take it all in.


As above this is only an opinion, but the reduced text give it more of a immediate sense. (and is by no means perfect)

Of course I don't know where this is going so I may have altered it's direction away from the one you require.


Obviously I stopped before the end becasue I think I've given you an idea of how it might be improved, but again opinions opinions etc.

Hope I helped

Tein
 

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