It’s not insta-love, it’s insta-skills


Krav Maga for Writers series by Chelsea MuellerI have a regular feature over at my writer blog talking about applying Krav Maga lessons to writing. These typically deal with fight scenes and characterization. The last post covered the importance of regular training, as in your character isn’t magically good at fighting. After sharing the link a bit on Twitter, I found that it was a common pet peeve among readers.

You don’t need to have an MMA fighting or martial arts background to know when it isn’t plausible for a character to win in a fight. You especially know it when he or she goes from never working out a day in their life and being utterly clumsy to throwing roundhouse kicks like a pro. (These do take practice, but I must admit you look like a badass when you do it right.)

We so often talk about the disdain for insta-love in romance. That magical moment when hero and heroine decide they’re madly in love (not just lust) with one another without ever getting to know each other. They love each without reason. Well, can we apply this same look to fight scenes? Is there such a thing as insta-skills? Do we hate it as much as insta-love?

I don’t need to see Jericho Barrons working out to know he’ll hand my ass to me. He exudes something fierce, and he has that mystery element. He’s gone a lot. Maybe he’s working a punching bag. We see Dmitri work with Rose in Vampire Academy to make her strong enough, fast enough to actually win in a fight with the supernatural. Bones puts Cat unconscious repeatedly in their training sessions. I believe those characters can win in a fight.

What makes you believe that a character really is a badass in a fight?

4 Responses to “It’s not insta-love, it’s insta-skills”

  1. Kristin says:

    I think, for me, unless magic is used, I like to see that common sense stuff is used when writing a fight scene, like the sheer physical size and strength of each fighter, and how that effects their skills, etc, otherwise, it’s just silly!

  2. Kristin D says:

    Oh..this almost bothers me more than the insta-love! One of the things I really liked about early Anita Blake was the references to her running, or how she knew that bigger men could get the best of her (thats where her knowledge of guns etc came in). It is so important to at least allude to training! And a beat-down occasionally does not hurt. Gin Blanco is prefect example! She is a highly trained killer, with magic & still occasionally gets her ass kicked. You mentioned Barrons…but Macs training at his hand was one of the most important parts of the series. It cannot be said enough, there has to be something there that lets us know where the skill came from.

  3. That bugs me too ..the insta love. I am so over that. 🙁 or triangles/teams. Please

    But I think practice , practice makes for a better believeable female. I think that with running a marathon. You don’t start running it. You have to build up the stamina , and run and find the groove. That with kick butt females, they always end up staying in their game. I think Merit is good example of that kick butt.

  4. eden crowne says:

    Absolutely — you need training to fight! Especially girls/women as we lack the body mass of most men. And weapons? Please! Most people would slice of their own finger off before an opponent’s throat! Show how they learned it and if they’re human, keep it real. Fighting is damn chaotic and painful and scary.

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