Thank you to Doug Lewars and to A Writer’s Path for this excellent article about crafting a breathtaking fight sequence.
Fight scenes are somewhat similar to chase scenes. I wrote about the latter last month. Use action verbs and use terse sentences. Real fights tend to be sloppy affairs and they frequently end quickly. In addition to punching and kicking there is frequently a lot of shoving. Staged fights are much better as reference material. YouTube is a good source of both so have a look at a few before writing them.
Although you’re probably going to be writing about a fight and not a boxing match, it is a good idea to learn some boxing terms. Things like hook, cross, uppercut and jab can be worked into the scene. Of course your actual fight will more likely be a brawl in which pretty much anything goes. So head butting, biting, elbowing, scratching, kneeing, kicking and the use of weapons are also permitted.
Mind you, the fight scene will be pretty short if both opponents are using shotguns at point blank range so the nature of the weapon will probably dictate the amount of space needed for the fight. Don’t hesitate to make use of judo and jujitsu techniques as well. It’s easy to look them up online but stay away from the terminology unless you’re creating a fight between two practitioners of a specific discipline.
For example, Harai Goshi is a sweeping hip throw. Even the term ‘sweeping hip throw’ is probably too technical. It would be better to describe some – but not all – of the technique. The reason you don’t want to describe every last step is that your story will slow. Rapid pacing is critical in a fight seen.
Therefore, for the example above, you might write something like, ‘As Frank rushed at him, Jerry pivoted left, shoved his right thigh in front of Frank, twisted forward and slammed him to the ground.’ If you look up the actual judo move you’ll see that I’ve left out at least 80% of the technique but the sentence flows and that’s all your reader is looking for at this point.
Make use of sensations in the fight. ‘Frank grunted’, ‘Harald groaned’, ‘Tony yelled’, ‘Marty felt a stab of pain in his …’, ‘Something warm ran down the side of his face’, ‘He smelled the scent of roses as he lay panting for breath’, ‘The club seemed to grow as he tried to dodge’, ‘Bile filled his mouth’.