Read a book on fighting and need some advice

by Jacob
(Fouke, AR, USA)

Question I recently purchased and read a book you suggested for another post about fighting scenes (Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall) In that book it says to never give your characters unnatural abilities or allow an untrained character to defeat a trained character.

Problem is my book is about 2 male and 1 female main characters. 2 swords for the male and 1 crossbow for the female have supernatural abilities giving them heightened senses, quicker movements and keener eyes. Therefore giving them the ability to beat highly trained soldiers without much training. In the beginning they are not masters of these special abilities and throughout the book they learn how to harness it but also in the beginning they beat or hold off enemies they should not. Should I keep the plot the way it is or should I change to have more training in the beginning? Thank you.

Answer: It's all about making the story plausible to the reader, which allows them to enjoy imagining that the story could be true.

Re: unnatural abilities

I'm not sure what part of Hall's book you're referring to, but obviously the entire fantasy genre is based on unnatural abilities, on violations of known physical laws.

What you want to avoid are fights in which your character does something that is physically impossible for the human body or an untrained fighter to do UNLESS you invent an explanation which the reader can accept as plausible.

If you want to give your character a magic sword that does some things on its own to help its owner, that's okay. You just have to explain at some point what it does and give some boundaries to its power.

You can even have the hero in the beginning not understand how he can be defeating enemies who he is clearly no match
for. A little mystery is okay, so long as the hero and the reader realize or find out later what's going on.

Of course, it wouldn't be much of a story if the sword automatically made the hero win every battle, so you may want to just have it defeat low-level opponents or let a little dumb luck lend a hand until the hero gains the skill to use it properly against the big villain. You might have the hero make a few mistakes early on that lead to small disasters.

The other thing you don't want is for a trained fighter reading your book to recognize that a certain martial arts move the hero does is either impossible or would actually result in the hero injuring himself or losing the fight in real life.

re: letting untrained characters defeat trained characters

Again, it's all about plausibility. If a magic sword lets your untrained hero defeat a trained hero, you just need to explain why.

Also, from what I understand, certain martial arts disciplines, such as Tai Chi take a few years to really attain competence in. During that time, someone with a lot of natural instinct, aggressiveness, confidence, and strength could certainly defeat a Tai Chi student who lacks these traits.

On the other hand, if martial arts training didn't give a person an advantage in a fight, it wouldn't continue to be practised. So, all things being equal, one would expect a trained fighter to have the upper hand.

Of course, all things are not always equal. Even a great fighter can be defeated by a blow from behind or a falling object. In a fantasy novel where your hero faces down a giant cave troll, martial arts training would certainly help but, depending on how you design your troll, the outcome might not be a certainty.

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Nov 16, 2014
by: Jacob

I see. The sword does allow the characters to do things a normal person can not without much training. In the beginning few fight scenes they are able to hold off better fighters but not defeat them. Throughout the center of the book there will be parts where they question the swords ability. For example the character loses their sword and are less effective in battle. Eventually they find out the truth behind it. Then will begin to train and harness the power to stop the antagonist.

With the hints and lack of god mode I fully believe the reader could find it plausible especially after they find out the full truth later on.

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