Going to an Expert

Wait! Stop! Count the hands! Where are everyone’s hands?

Going to an ExpertThis is a reoccurring dilemma when writing one of two scenes – sex and fights. Today, we’re going to cover what it takes to write one of those. The other … well… we’ll save it for another time.

I’ve found that I love working on books that put life on the line. I like car chases, fires, explosions, whizzing bullets, and flying fists.  They put you on edge and get the heart pumping.  You grip the book a little tighter as you plunge through, anxious to see how the hero escapes the building danger.

I wrote my first fight scenes when working on the Dark Days series and I found that as my hero got stronger, the scenes had to get increasingly more complex to keep the danger running high.  Let me just say, that gets exhausting.  By the end of the series, I found myself reaching out to an expert.

My husband is a former amateur mixed-martial-arts fighter with a five and two record. He studied a number of fighting styles including the use of various weapons. He also has military training from his time in the Navy. He’s a walking reference. He also allows me to punch and kick him, so it’s a win for me.

But having a walking reference isn’t as automatically awesome as you might assume.  As a real fighter, he naturally goes for the easiest and quickest take down. Which is smart. But the quickest and easiest isn’t always the most interesting to read about. When you need to build tension, you can’t have a fight scene that ends it two moves.

Of course, I’ve learned that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous. There have been times when I’ve walked out and asked him about a scenario. He shakes his head, “No, honey. You’re just making it too complicated. You just need X.”

Let me just tell you that X isn’t as interesting to read about.

So, we’ve learned to compromise.  I will pitch a scenario to him, supplying him with the degree of experience of the fighters, location, and the types of injuries that I need to occur. He takes a couple hours or days, depending on the complexity, and then comes back to me with a blow-by-blow scene that he acts out – sometimes with me playing the part of the stand-in dummy. I take notes, making sure I know where everyone’s hands and feet are at all times while also keeping track of injuries.

I love this balance that we’ve worked out because I know the fights are authentic. Because of his knowledge and experience, I know the impact of the blows and the damage that’s done. I can clearly see the mechanics because it’s being acted out before my eyes.

For Shiver, my husband assisted me with a pair of scenes that I think jump off the page because of their level of reality. He makes fighting look like a dance. It’s my job to add the music. Lucas and Andrei have their work cut out for them.

And it has been a lot of fun.

Don’t forget. You can now pre-order the ebook of Shiver on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords. We are hoping to have the print edition ready for ordering soon. Shiver will be out October 27.

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