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Discussion Post: Are You Good At Picturing Fight Scenes in Books?

Is it just me, or is it hard for you to imagine book fight scenes? If it’s not, please share your strategies!!

Do you have martial arts or fencing training? What helps you imagine what’s happening?

Discussion Post: Are You Good At Picturing Fight Scenes in Books?

I can read a fighting description just like everyone else, but the trouble comes in when the moves detailed are something my brain just can’t imagine. Usually things get fuzzy around specifically named moves and weapons.

And, confession, even with a smartphone beside me at all times, I almost never look up to see what things look like. Cuz, hello, I’m busy READING.

If you’re naturally good at picturing fighting scenes in books, what makes it more vivid for you? Do you just pretend you know what’s happening?

picturing fighting scenes in books

When I’m struggling to imagine fighting scenes in books, I…

1. Try to use a movie as a reference. . If it’s a medieval type battle, I try to imagine The Princess Bride. If it’s futuristic, I plop in some light sabers (if appropriate, of course). Or, if it’s anything fantasy related, I add in some Lord of the Rings references.

2. I just let things get blurry.. Sometimes, the effort is just too great. What is happening?!? I don’t know, so I skim a bit, let things go blurry, make sure my fave characters are unscathed and just move on.

3. Focus on the strategy. I’ve come to appreciate the complicated plans behind sneak attacks and wars in books, and I’ve found that paying closer attention to that instead of the slashing and bleeding is more helpful to my enjoyment of reading.


4. Draw it out or make a mental list of where everyone is. I have not actually done this…ever, but the thought has crossed my mind as an option. I don’t care about fighting details enough to take the time, but I bet someone has at some point, right?

Is it just me or are some book fight scenes just impossible to sort out?

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Brittany Welsh

    I think it depends on the pacing for me. When it gets really fast, it’s pretty blurry in my head. Hahaha to the artwork.

    • My photo editing skillz are amazing, no? Hahaha, jk. And yes I totally agree about when things go quickly. Or if there is a horde of people involved. Confusing!

  • Anya E. J.

    When I think about it, I think I have to admit that I let things get blurry too. I certainly read all the words, but I have a hard time picturing the exact actions and keeping track of everyone, so I mostly see an action if it is something I can understand and rely on the book to tell me if it was a near miss or such ;-).

  • I agree. I tend to let things get a bit blurry and just focus on the strategy. I rarely try to figure out exactly how people are positioned and such. Also, those scenes tend to be written with a quick pace, and they tend to make me read much faster than usual because I want to know the end result. So I feel like authors want you to feel the emotion behind it more than just focusing on the details anyways.

    • I really like the idea of just experiencing the emotion. It will make me feel less guilty for glossing over the (literally) gory details.

  • kawaii_candie

    i think it depends how good the author is at writing them. with some writers, it flows really well and i can picture it just fine, with others…. it’s a bit meh. it also kinda annoys me when fight scenes drone on and on… i’m like “this book was written for boys.” lol. then i just skim the whole thing over til it’s done ;p

  • I love this post. I often do wonder to myself .. am I picturing this correctly?? I think usually in my mind it might be more epic then it really is.

  • I usually picture it if it’s a small scale fight scene, with just a few people. Otherwise it will kind of blur and I try to keep track of things like in a movie. I have a much better picture happening in my head with non-fight scenes.

  • It really depends for me. Some authors just know how to write a good fighting scene and it also matters to me where the fighting is placed. Let’s say I’m thrown into a fight when I start the book, I have a harder time imagining in that when it’s placed in the middle – when I’m already swept away in the story.

  • I have trouble with it too, but my problem might also be that I just don’t care that much. I mean, sure, if it’s crucial to the story that there’s some kind of a fight, writing out the details is better than just saying, “They fought,” and skipping over it. But I’m more interested in the end result than the choreography.