The Challenge of Creature Battles

With a title like that, you probably think I’m talking about a big boss in a video game.  I’m actually thinking about fight scenes.  This is something I’m known for in my work.  I’ve done a LOT of research about fighting styles, martial arts, fencing, physics, etc.–for PEOPLE.  I’m currently struggling my way through a fight scene with a critter.  This is my third creature battle in DOTH, and every one has been like pulling teeth because I can’t use my fall back knowledge of person on person fighting.  There’s a whole other aspect of sorting out how the fight will go.

  • How does it move?  A creature with wings will obviously move very differently from a creature on four feet.  A monster with tentacles (imagine the thing outside the Mines of Moria) fights very differently from a creature of tooth and claw.  You have to give some thought to how it moves, how it attacks before you can even START to envision the conversation that is a proper fight scene.
  • What is its weakness?  Every creature has a weakness.  Some more than others.  You need to know what they are and how your hero can exploit them to win the fight.  The unanimous answer to how my heroes are going to beat the current creature has been “lop off its head”, which is all well and good but it’s not like the thing is going to just stand STILL for that.  Knowing what the weakness is is only the first part–you have to know how you can get TO it.
  • What are its defensive capabilities?  Every creature fights differently.  A porcupine has quills.  A tiger has teeth and claws.  An eagle has talons and a razor sharp beak made for tearing.  You have to sort out how a creature attacks, how it would wound, what those wounds would look and feel like to your hero.
  • Who started it?  A creature that’s aggressive and on the offensive who attacks your hero is going to be very different from a creature that is attacking defensively because either hero has attacked it or at the very least stumbled upon its den.  This is the kind of thing that will affect the tenor of the fight and how it might end (since you don’t always want or need to kill it–sometimes the goal is simply survival).

Just some food for thought in case you find yourself needing to write a battle royale between your hero and something of a less than humanoid nature.

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5 comments

  1. I actually prefer writing battles with creatures rather than other humans. I worried a lot about the fight scenes in The Gnome, but one of my beta readers said the action was what I was best at. And there’s a really nasty creature the hero and heroine fight together in Soul of a Vampire. But, yeah, it’s really different from two people fighting. I like the points you make in your post. You have to know all those things to make the fight believable. I think this post will give writers food for thought when writing creature fight scenes because I’m sure none of them have seen this done in real life. Hee hee.

    Also, maybe watch some Buffy. LOL

    Thanks for the post! You do so much to help fellow authors. 🙂

  2. I prefer creature battles as well, might be because I grew up on nature programs where there’d always be a fight for food, territory or things of that nature. I’m still worried about them, mostly about the creature fighting the exact same way each and every time.
    Thank you for the list, good food for thought 🙂

  3. Ooh, all good points. And they make me glad I won’t have to deal with that yet… wait. I’m going to be writing werewolf fight scenes. Darn it, I will have to think about it.

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