I’m so happy with my new fight scene from Higher Than Jesus.
1. My first draft of this chapter was too easy on the protagonist. I wanted to show that Jesus had skills. He’s not a lame sad sack, though he is subject to Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will. This seems particularly true of my Cuban hit man Jesus Diaz. When I went revised, the chapter doubled in length to a much more tense and intense sequence.
2. I needed to use this scene to show that the heroine was worth fighting for. I really dislike stories where the heroine is merely an interchangeable object who, when things get dicey, can’t be depended upon. There are already too many stories out there where the guy fights the bad guy while the woman runs away, is tied up, twists an ankle, or presses herself against a wall while looking on in horror. (That’s a way too retro view of women. I like strong women.) A real man in any fight for his life will shriek, “Grab a shovel and hit this monster in the head! Don’t just stand there! He’s trying to kill me, for god’s sake!” Heroes who fight alone with an ally/romantic interest nearby aren’t heroes. They’re morons.
3. I put my protagonist through the burner. His reactions are realistic. He shakes. He trembles. He feels the euphoria of savagery and depths of fear. When bad things happen, he doesn’t just shrug it off. When somebody shoots at you, it’s totally unrealistic to react as if the shooter has offered you a sandwich of a sort you simply do not prefer.
4. The obstacles don’t stop. The guiding principle in The Hit Man Series is this: I don’t like it when the reader knows what’s coming next. Try to anticipate the unexpected. A lot of the time, I’m not sure what’s coming next, either. Expect a fast pace, twists and reversals.
5. A lot of fight scenes are dumb. This one isn’t. It means something much more to the larger story and to the characters.
6. There are long term consequences to a good fight scene. It’s not an episodic chapter of action only for action’s sake.
7. This fight scene elucidates in part how Jesus got the skills he did so what he can do doesn’t arrive out of nowhere.
8. The fight unearths something from Jesus Diaz’s personal history that overturns what readers think they know about his origin story. There was much more going on in Cuba than was revealed in the first book. I only found out when Jesus told me the other day.
9. The fight scene establishes my hit man’s amoral centre, but, because of his love for the heroine, he wants to reach higher. He wants to change. One of his challenges for the long arc of the series is, can he change? Can anyone?
10. When Higher Than Jesus comes out, you’ll see what I mean about this. No spoilers here, but I can say when the action is fast, the scene slows to take in details and make you grit your teeth. When the action slows down, the tension cranks up so there are questions that propel the story to the last word of the scene and the chapter.
This particular fight scene shows where Jesus Diaz has been and where he’s going.
The fight isn’t just with a couple of bad guys.
It’s about the fight between the two sides of Jesus’s character.
It’s about the fight we all face with the devils of our worse nature.
~ Like my flavor? Listen to the first chapter of my crime thriller, Bigger Than Jesus. I’m podcasting the book through the summer. Enjoy! (Or be a hero and just click the cover to grab it. Thanks for reading!)
- UBC #15: What’s missing from this thriller’s back matter? (chazzwrites.com)
- Top 10 Jackie Chan Fight Scenes in Honor of His Retirement from Action Films (kineda.com)
- Noah Wyle: ‘Fight scenes are like sex scenes’ (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Top 10 Things I know I don’t know (yet) (chazzwrites.com)
- Choreographing Fight Scenes (tpwords.wordpress.com)
- Podcast: Bigger Than Jesus, Chapter 2 (allthatchazz.com)