Help With Martial Arts

Question: I really want to write a sort of martial arts epic, and since I write in fictional worlds it only makes sense to have fictional martial arts, though they'll obviously have influence from/plenty in common with real martial arts. My problem is putting the finishing touches on them and, more than anything, really describing them properly. I find fight scenes difficult to write in the first place, but with all these exotic fighting styles and weapons, I'm lost. Even if I get a miracle and pull through that though, maybe my biggest problem is coming up with a proper story. I love writing about fighters, but I'm not too sure of a good reason for them to all fight each other to begin with. Typical martial arts storylines like "who is strongest?" or "what is the true meaning of martial arts?" or "self-discovery" seem so cliched and boring to me by now. I won't just ask for a storyline, as that would be both lazy and unoriginal, CARDINAL SINS OF WRITING! ...at least to me. But do you have any ideas about how I could think up a story for this kind of setting or line-up of various fighters? Any input on any of these issues is much appreciated. If I left out any details of the story you would like to know, just ask!


Answer: Wanting to write in a particular genre, but being bored by its cliches is the prerequisite for finding an original story.

Good on you for rejecting some of the heroic cliches that are barely interesting enough for a video game or a children's cartoon.

One way to create an original story for a particular genre is to start with a one or two-sentence description of a typical cliched story - maybe taken from a classic in the genre. Replace any proper names with generic. Then experiment with changing just one thing about the story that you think would make it more interesting or awesome.

Next, make a list of questions you could ask about this new version of the story.

Brainstorm a list of answers to each question. Then choose the answers you like.

Keep doing this until you have something that excites you.

As for creating a new martial art, you may not need to get too specific about each and every move. A few authentic details that capture the flavour are often enough.

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