Excerpt from Red Steel

We’ve been talking about writing fight scenes the past couple of weeks. Last night I gave my presentation for the Pamlico Writers’ Group via Zoom.

Writers don’t have the luxury of film and music scores to set up their battle. It is up to us to take the reader on an emotional journey with us as we embark on our “battle.” Whether it’s a full blown battle scene like Star Wars or a scene where you are trying to get a toddler to bed, there are several degrees to each battle scene.

The Battle from a distance or preparing for battle. Imagine being on a convoy ship going into your first battle. The commander is watching the battle from a monitor aboard ship. The soldier beside you is a seasoned warrior, battle scarred and old before his time, he is praying. You were excited about your first fight until you see the warriors hands shake.

In my story Red Steel I have several small battles. In the first one, Melanie is going to confront her ex-boyfriend, the leader of a biker gang.

Choreographing a scene I try to visualize how it happens as if it were in a movie.

Chapter 1: Melanie, Into the Fire

New Year’s Eve

Melanie gripped the steering wheel, her knuckles turning white. Panic turned to dread as the realization of what had happened to Jonas finally hit her. She pressed the gas. The little clunker sputtered as she sped towards her ex-boyfriend’s farm. “Boyfriend,” she snorted. Tears blurring her vision. She’d met the biker outside Jacksonville, Florida at the hole she’d been working. He’d been handsome and kind. He’d seemed like the perfect knight to rescue her from her life of waiting tables and giving guys blow jobs in the backseat of their cars for extra money just so she could have enough money to pay bills and feed her kid. Out of the frying pan into the fire as her grandma would say. She should have stayed with Jonas’ daddy. He wasn’t that bad. He was controlling and he’d hit her but…

Her head connected with the roof of the car as she hit another pothole. She cursed the long winding dirt lane that passed for a road. This one was big enough to bury a dog, a very big dog. She prayed she didn’t mess up the car before she reached Midas. Cursing, she swerved around another pothole and swiped at the blinding tears. “That sorry son-of-a-bitch has a lot to answer for.” The pistol in her purse shifted as she jerked the wheel to avoid another pothole. She grabbed the purse to keep it from sliding out. This road was not designed to be taken at top speed, but Melanie had no time to lose. She’d wasted too many precious hours already. Her stomach lurched as fear threatened to consume her. The phone call with her ex-husband kept playing in her mind. “How could you lose our son?” She couldn’t allow her fears to freeze her into inactivity. Guilt, fear, dread mingled with the exhaust of the ragged little car. She would not be ill. She would have answers tonight or someone was going to die. A shiver ran up her spine. She knew by confronting Midas at his farm, she would probably be the one to die but she hoped she wasn’t alone. 

Details matter, having a gun in her purse so she can pull it out later. Make sure you set things up so the reader isn’t left going “but where’d that come from?”

Finally, she pulled into the yard. A line of motorcycles stood in front of one of the old barns. The bikers had converted several of the outbuildings into barracks. One served as a brothel. Melanie shuddered knowing she’d barely escaped that fate. Winston, before he’d become Midas, hadn’t been that bad. It was only after he’d joined the bikers and started working his way up that he’d truly became an asshole.

Only a half dozen or so bikes were out at the barn. That was good news, maybe she could survive this night. She wondered where the rest of the bikers were. It was unusual that they all weren’t celebrating the holiday together. She didn’t have time to worry about biker politics as she sped into the clearing that served as parking for the mildewed, old doublewide. Stopping the car inches from the front porch, she threw the shifter in park and pocketed the keys. Snatching her purse from the seat, she started towards the porch only to have her way blocked by Midas’ second in command, Nick Golden. She would find it funny that a man who called himself Midas would have an enforcer called Golden, but she suspected that there was a link between the two, and at the moment, the only thing Melanie had time to think about was her son. Pulling the pistol from her purse she pointed it at Nick’s chest. “I got business with Midas. If you try to stop me, I will shoot you.”

Okay, not exactly the image I was going for when Melanie pulls the gun on Nick but you get the drift.

Nick put his hands in the air and called out, “Midas, company. Mel’s here.” He grinned at her showing surprisingly white teeth. “And she’s pissed.” He stepped out of her way and nodded for her to proceed him into the trailer.

Shouts, laughter and fireworks came from the field beside the house. The bikers were drunk, but she had no illusions, if she threatened their boss, they wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. Melanie’s heart sank, she didn’t regret dying to avenge her son, she only wished she could have seen him one last time. If I’m not getting out of here alive, I’ll take as many of them with me as I can. Even if someone heard a gunshot, they’d just think it was part of the New Year’s celebration.

A young blond had her head in Winston’s crotch, giving him a blow job. Mel rolled her eyes and dropped her gun into her purse. She walked over and kicked the girl in the foot. “Leave.”

The girl looked up, her dark eyes startled. She couldn’t be more than fourteen. Melanie’s stomach heaved. The child hesitated. Midas pushed her away. “Go on, we’ll finish this later.” He didn’t bother to put his dick in his pants. He watched the young girl go and asked. “You planning to take her place. You always were better at giving head.” He leaned back in the well-worn recliner.

“Fuck you Midas, where’s my son?” Melanie tried not to let her fear show.

He shrugged. “How should I know?”

“I just got off the phone with my ex, he’s been deployed for the past ten months. He’s not seen or heard from Jonas. So where is my son?”

Midas, real name, Winston Jarvis, righted his clothes and stood. “I told you Mel, I don’t know. I sold the kid…”

The crack reverberated surprising them both. Melanie didn’t remember moving, only the sting in her hand and the imprint on Midas’ face gave proof that she’d slapped him. With a shuddering breath she demanded, “When? When did you sell him?”

Rubbing the side of his face, Midas shrugged. “Right after you went to the hospital.”

Tears filled her eyes. “You bastard.”

“Yeah, what else was I going to do with a kid? I’m not into boys.”

Melanie pulled the pistol from her purse. “Who did you sell him to?”

“Put your toy gun away Mel, you know I have bigger guns and more of them.” He nodded behind her, but she refused to look.

Keeping the pistol trained on Midas she demanded, “Who has my son?”

He laughed. “Well see, that’s the thing, we don’t know. My buyer got misdirected and the person who bought him, well, they still owe me money…”

She felt the air shift behind her and pulled the trigger.

“I can’t believe you let her bring a fucking gun in here,” she heard Midas scream as the butt of a gun connected with the side of her head. The pain in her head exploded in a blinding light, then everything went dark.

While this scene wasn’t a big battle, it was life changing for Melanie. In truth she should have died and perhaps she wanted to commit suicide believing she’d never see her son again but she planned to take Midas down with her.

Your Point of View character is the most important element in telling/showing this scene because it is through her eyes that we see and FEEL the battle.

Whether it is an epic battle or a smaller fight, the character should be changed. If it was an all out war, more than just the character should have suffered change, the place it happened should be scarred, the economy affected, people sick and dying, shortages on food and medicine. If this was a personal battle, who else suffered? Did anyone gain anything?

I hope you are enjoying my writing tips on fight scenes. I’d love to hear some of yours. I’m always looking to learn more.

Happy Writing y’all!

If you enjoyed this excerpt from RED STEEL, it is on sale for 99 cents through Amazon and other ebook retailers.

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