Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bruise and Consequence

Guest Post by Author Teel James Glenn

Bruise and Consequence

based on the book “Them’s Fightin’ Words!” by Teel James Glenn (published by

Since the first storyteller sat around a campfire spinning tales of gods and heroes it has been a given that a little action makes a mildly interesting story into a real grabber. Put your hero or heroine in physical jeopardy and you can have a winner. Conflict is the key and physical conflict, i.e., a fight, is often the answer.

It is not the only answer, to be sure, and emotional conflict is the essence of real drama, but the line where drama ends and adventure or melodrama begins is an iffy one. Since the fight has to serve the purpose of the story you have to use the same criteria as any journalistic or dramatic story. Ask yourself, ‘is this fight necessary?’ If it is then you can use the old six questions: Why, Who, How, Where, What and When?


Why is this fight the solution to this moment of the story, instead of a dialogue scene? Being clear about the purpose the fight in the story is paramount. After all, Shakespeare put the fight at the end of Hamlet for two very strong reasons. It was the dramatic climax that brought together several plot threads, and it was used as a device to reveal the true personalities of the major participants.


Who is involved in the action; the principal? A secondary character? If so, what is their stake in the confrontation (their personal why)?


How did the fight come about? How does it end? And in what state are the participants when it is all over? Will there be lingering effects? And will the effects be physical or mental or both? There is also the mechanical how of a fight; that is, how to plan it out. You can’t build a house without a plan and you must do the same thing with the ‘story’ of a fight.

One thing to do in building the fight is to put in a ‘kick the dog moment’, by which I mean, give your bad guys an action that makes it clear they are not just misunderstood and don't mean well. Let them ‘kick’ the metaphorical dog in the room, hurt an innocent with no remorse.


Where does the action take place? Is it an interesting enough place, i.e. a kitchen, a garage, a spaceship port? What makes that place of particular interest? Does it add color to the story, or is it just a drab background, a diorama in front of which the action takes place?


What is involved, physically in the fight? A sword fight; if so, what style? Or styles. Do they use the objects at hand or did they bring the ‘death dealers’ with them. (Jackie Chan movies are especially good at finding clever things to do with found objects in action scenes—you don’t have to be ‘clever’ funny but you should clever smart.).


When is it appropriate to have a fight instead of a non-physical solution? I know I keep stressing this, but that cuts to the heart of the situation of many literature snobs who will not deal with any ‘action’ because they feel it cheapens the purpose of a story


About Author Teel James Glenn

Teel James Glenn is a native of Brooklyn though he has traveled the world for thirty years as a Stuntman/Coordinator/Swordmaster, Jouster, Book Illustrator, Storyteller, Bodyguard and Actor. You can keep up on Teel James Glenn’s adventures at

His books in the Altiva fantasy series are: Tales of a Warrior Priest, Death at Dragonthroat, The Daemonhold Curse, and Sister Warrior all from ePress-Online as are Knight Errant :Death and Life at the Faire , Them’s Fightin Words :A Writers Guide to Writing Fight Scenes and the forthcoming: The Vision Quest Factor and A Hex of Shadows.

The Exceptionals: #1 Measure of a Man and #2 Across the Wasteland are out from Whiskey Creek Press with #3 due next year.

He has stories published in AfterburnSF, Blazing Adventures, AnotherRealm, Event Horizon, Fantasy Tales, Mad, Black Belt, Alternative Cinema, Classic Pulp Fiction Stories, Weird Stories, Double Danger Tales, Startling Science Stories, Shots Writer’s Village and others.

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