How to write battle scene?

I based this text on my humble opinion and things I was thought of. Of course, there is a fragment of common sense and logical processing of the info I was provided with, so you don’t need to take my word for a fact. This said, I will spill some stuff here. If not for education and insight, then maybe as a pure fun.

No battle scene came to life by just writing it. Some plans must be made, and then some plans must be thought of to the details. You have probably heard that a writer firstly must imagine the final scene that comes at the end and just then start with his novel, slowly building up the plot to the culmination of the story where final battle takes place. This is actually the right way to do it, even if there is no rule of why everybody insist that massive carnage takes place near the last 30 pages of the novel. Of course you can make small clashes throughout the story. That is actually recommendable as those small fights build up the tension and announce that some outrageously cool battle will follow. Not delivering that epic annihilation will just irritate the reader, because they all expect a collective spill of blood and sea of fire consuming the enemy for their sins committed over our protagonist.

Hand to hand, melee or “closed quarter combat” scenes are particularly hard to describe because there are too many movements and overlapping strikes for a writer to deliver a proper block of text of pure violence. In military fiction, story usually has a very dynamic flow of the plot, a fast paced way of storytelling, but when there is enemy at the horizon, the whole speed of the story slows down enabling writer to completely dedicate to portraying an amazing battle scene.

When the first blade is drawn and bullet fired, make sure that you don’t suffocate your reader with every clutched fist, scream and thump. Battle scene needs to maintain the liquid flow of the plot, that’s why simple and impactful words are used that insinuate aggression like: smack, smash, thrust, twist, spin, punch, slash, stab, block etc.

Details come in play when action is about to commence or it is close to its end. It is rarely used during the fight, but some detail can be slipped when combatants are making a pause or when detail is needed to show the way the fight is being led. This can be practiced to the point where implemented details are not damaging the flow of the novel or the plot, leaving a modest block of text packed with heavy action.

Occasional line, or block of text that is not connected with the battle scene can give rest to the reader and give him time to process the fight in chunks, so at the end the full magnitude of sweaty and tiresome battle is perceived as intended.

To make a good battle scene there are some elements every writer needs to take in consideration before staining its quill with ink. The process goes (for me at least) like this:

– Who are protagonist and antagonist? (this goes for determining who is going to fight and win the fight)(you should let villain win at least once before hero overpowers him with his superior intelligence)… (if hero wins solely by pure strength, that makes him a bully and a brute)… (your hero is normal person, not an animal, so let him suffer on a low heat for about an hour before you let him loose at the enemy horde)

– Why are they fighting? (this goes for the context of the fight and goals characters are trying to achieve)

– Where is battle taking place? (this goes for the landscape and surrounding that can help our hero in the fight)(they fight in the desert, villain is strangling the hero… if only they were on a street and there was a piece of brick our hero can use to defend himself… ah, I guess he must DIE)

– How does the battle starts, develop and ends? (this goes for the main part of the battle, movements, intelligent decisions and actions against the villain, moment of the hero’s rise and making a decisive act that decides who wins the fight)

– What is gained after the battle? (this goes for the aftereffect of the fight, as was the goal achieved or not, did he learned something, got experience, lose and gave up fighting or only set his goals more firmly, did he provoked more chaos of stopped it, the list goes on)


– You’re a loser! – the boy teased me while his friends stood behind him – laughing.

I closed my palm to a fist and made my lips into a thin line over my face, when a gentle touch over my arm fixed me in the spot. I turned to see her eyes begging me not to rush the crowd and lose my calm, but when he smacked me on the back of my head, I snacthed my arm back and went for him.

His face was presented forward as he waved his hand around for another smack, but I blocked it and drove my fist into his guts. Half way bowed, my knee elevated the idiot back to former position. The hand I blocked his strike, twisted his arm to a nasty cry, then my leg pushed against his knee and set him begging for mercy.

Jane was trying to pull me away, yanked my jacket, close to tare it in pieces. Her screams were mute in my head where anger took over my mind and lead me to smash him in the nose and bloody his shirt.

– Stop it! – girly scream came clear now, but was she yelling at the pack of boys that came to aid their friend or was she screaming at me?

In a cluster of raining fists, I tried to even the score by punching and kicking anything close to me. My cheeks received their zooming blows, legs started crumbling down, my back slashed out with pain only made me weaker and confused. I was overrun to a defencive position where I wasn’t even trying to return fire anymore. Every time my hands rose up, I wanted to stop them, catch their fists and drag them to the ground, pause the fight and take breath, but those who win seek no peace.

Rate of blows started to decline and that’s when tired boys stopped to take breath. Jane laid over me to protect me with her body. I heard her voice reverberate in the parking lot, her weight pressing against my lungs, her hands flying over my body and head to stop the kicking.

It was over. I lost. Maybe I was a loser, but I was still willing to make a stand to this hoodlums.


I hope this helped you in some way. This is how my brain works. I like writing with music, so I would recommend some good heavy metal or anything that makes your blood pump faster.


This was a little bit longer post than what I am used to, but all for a good cause. This post is approved by 42. Cyber Corps mascot Kitten.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. You can find me on Facebook or Twitter.

And for those that like to read more about me brain and combat, please take a look at this.

Ildocian Tundra

Lost in the routine

Happy Crew


7 thoughts on “How to write battle scene?

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