One of the fun things about these fight scene posts is the
fact a lot of the information I am providing can be used in real life in a real
fight. For the beginning of this series, please visit my Coffee with David blog
will be linked at the end.
When writing or talking to fellow writers about “The Third
Person,” their minds usually run to writing in the third person. What we are
about to discuss has nothing to do with writing in the third person. Instead,
“The Third Person” is an object or another character in the story one of the
people in the fight will throw, slam, shove, so forth the other person
into. As you know as an author, your
characters are not fist fighting in a vacuum (unless you are writing a scene in
space and nothing is around at all--if so, you can stop reading this entry as
it will not help you write that scene). Thus, there are objects and/or people
around the people fighting. These objects or other people can be used as weapons.
Let’s walk through an example to explain further:
George and Simon have been drinking heavily at a bar. Simon
has been flirting with Diane, but she has been flirting with George. Simon is
mad and decides to start a fight.
Question 1: What objects are around in the setting?
Obviously, the bar. There may be bar stools, tables, chairs,
bottles, glasses, a juke box, a video game (I have seen hunting and golf games
at some places), a television, a pool
table (with pool balls and pool cues), and maybe musical instruments. There should be other people (at least the flirting Diane), the
bartender (unless either George or Simon (or Diane) are the bartender. Maybe
George or Simon have some friends who will come to their aid in a fight?
Question 2: Who is the point of view character?
Let’s pick Simon just because he is the one starting the
How would Simon view the fight? He is mad. He started the
fight. Is he scared and hiding it behind bravado? Does he love Diane and feels
hurt? The fight starts with the normal name calling and puffing up of chests.
Then comes pushing and shoving. What would happen if Simon pushed George into a
table? Write down your thoughts.
I can easily picture George losing his balance—at least for
a moment, during which he is vulnerable. He might knock over some things. But
generally he is ok.
Now let’s escalate the fight. George grabs Simon, spins him
around and releases hi,. What do you see as the possible outcome of this?
Depending on when George let go and if he was trying to aim
Simon into something—Simon could hit anyone or anything. Hitting someone might
knock them over. That could start a brawl. But what if someone in the crowd was
a friend of Simon’s who was going to step in to jump George for picking on his
friend? Now Simon’s friend (let’s call him Kevin), is knocked over as well.
Kevin might knock his head on a table or a chair or other object. Kevin and
Simon will probably recover quickly, but:
1. They have to pick themselves up
off the ground before they can fight (unless they know some kind of ground
fighting and they didn’t end up too far from George).
2. They could be injured. Simon
just did an impersonation of a bowling ball. He might have the wind knocked out
or even a broken rib. Kevin, because he just had Simon roll into him, could
have a twisted leg, a broken tooth or nose (if he fell forward over Simon and
did a face plant), he could have a fractured skull or be knocked out (if he
fell backwards and struck a table corner just right).
3. What if Simon or Kevin roll into
or fall on Diane? There are a lot of comedic situations which can stem from
that. However, from a serious point of view, you now have another “Third
person” who can be injured or hamper or even enhance the fight scene.
Question 3: What would happen next?
My response is Simon does a running tackle, tackling George
through the bar window. Why? It’s a bar fight, so why not. Now, what is the
result of using the window as “The Third Person”? Glass is shattered. It could
have cut or killed either George or Simon. Depending on where the bar is, the
shattering of the glass could draw unwanted attention. The glass could have
flown into other people. George and Simon may have landed on other people. They
could have hit a hard paved parking lot, sidewalk or parking tire stop. What
other damage could have been caused? Are they able to still fight? Did Diane
pour her drink on them both and walk away? Did the bartender take a baseball
bat to them? Where are the bouncers?
Question 4: How does the setting magnify any symbolization in the fight
or symbolizes the fight?
If you haven’t asked your self this question in your writing
of a fight scene, you should on the re-write of it. You are passing up a great
opportunity. The use of the third party can resonate the fight and the overall
story symbolism in ways your reader will not realize until afterwards how the
microcosm fits into the universal story you are writing.
In a story, the setting and other characters should be
brought into the fight scene to enhance the conflict. Fight scenes can seem
chaotic, especially as you draw “the Third Person” into them, but this is where
your craft and the story come together to meld the fight into the larger story.
As a side note: In a real life self-defense situation, never
forget “The Third Person.” It can be a handy method of escape or stopping the
attacker or fight from escalating.
Thank you for reading and please visit
www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on
twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the
world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the
human condition as he chooses.