Knowing how to write a good fight scene for a fantasy author is the equivalent of knowing how to write a love scene for a romance writer. We are constantly told to write what we know about, and yet most of us have never really been in a fight or had some kind of self-defence training. This book sets out to help you fake it.
Hall breaks down fight scenes into two broad categories; gritty and entertaining, highlights the importance of location and then sets out a six part blueprint. Then she proceeds to give an overview of every kind of weapon (real and made-up), sets out what the advantages and disadvantages are of each group of weapons, and suggests vocabulary and gives warning of common blunders. There are also chapters on unarmed combat, strategy and tactics and even tips on planning out battles. There is even a chapter on euphonics and language.
One of the nicer touches in the book is the inclusion of links to online videos that either demonstrates a fighting style or the use of particular weapons. What isn’t so cool is that at times the book feels rushed, with not enough care taken in the editing of it, leading to an occasional misspelt word or bungled sentence.
This book will probably will be most useful to new writers, however having some background in martial arts will give you a better understanding of the mechanics of combat. Hall herself is an experienced martial artist and has clearly done lots of research on weapon types, historic usage of said tools and found video content to match each section. Some more established writers may sniff in disdain, but I think it’s a good desk reference for any writer, and an excellent starting point for research (there is a bibliography in the book that will help broaden a writer’s knowledge of weapons and fighting). I can see myself referring back to this book to help me out when I get bogged down in a fight scene, and even as a starting point to help me develop a character’s fighting style.
Whilst I won’t stretch as far as saying that this is an essential reference, I would say that it is worth exploring especially if you are new to writing fight scenes.