Writing Fantasy Magical Battle Scenes


Sometimes, I imagine I have magical powers. As I'm walking through the city, I picture my power manipulating this object or breaking that object. Of course, I always give my characters abilities. They usually get into fights. How would you write a magical fight scene?

Here's an example from The Lost Sciell:

Josephine stabbed her blade into the ground. Her Lifeblood left her body, passed through her weapon to live in the land under her feet. Her body moved. She didn’t tell it to. She spread her hands at her side, palms up, and lifted them. Black fire rose around her. Josephine's aura took over the power, staining it red.

Her Lifeblood wanted to flare up. To ravage everything, like always. Josephine couldn’t have that. She had to protect her family and Middle Jael. Her power needed to listen to her. It fought. It didn’t want to be controlled.

The shadow creatures surrounded her. They opened their mouths to rows of sharp teeth.

Her power raged. Holding it down was like trying to stop a tornado with her hands. 

Different shadows rose around Josephine's fire. Divine. His dark power merged with hers.

The Del’Praeli charged. Josephine lifted her hand. Her power felt lighter. She shoved her palm forward. Her fire burned through the charging creatures. She closed her palm. The red wave pulled back before it burned through a tree.

A few shadow creatures melted into the ground, avoiding her attack. 

She felt them behind her. Turning, she swung her palm in their direction. Divine held the same stance.

They shoved their hands forward. Black and red flames raced toward the monsters.

...

I'll admit, anime inspires my fight scenes.... a lot. 

It's not my only inspiration. Those fight scenes can be a bit overdramatic.

Research Writing Fight Scenes
I do a lot of research on writing fight scenes. I mean a lot. I read articles and examine scenes in books. I created a resources list of some useful articles. Check out Writing Fight Scenes.

Take a Class
This is related to research but I feel it deserves a sperate section. Kickboxing is one of my favorite forms of exercise. I've never punched anyone but, because of Kickboxing, I understand the mechanics of hitting someone, as in how the body's positioned. Research then tells me what happens once you hit someone or once you've been hit. At one point, I Googled what it felt like to be punched in the stomach. Found any interesting forum.

My Tai Chi instructor said you're not punching someone with your fist. You're hitting them with the floor.  I took Tai Chi mostly because I'm interested in anything anime related. I also figured it would inspire my story.  It did. Tai Chi helped me better understand how the power flows through my character's body. I also took Kendo for a couple of months. That was amazing.

Understand How Your Character Uses Their Power
Get technical with it. Do they have to stand a certain way? Do their hands need to form some kind of pattern? Do they have to say a spell? Understand everything they need to do to bring out their power.

What Does It Feel Like
When the power wells up, is it a burning feeling? That could be distracting in battle. Does it feel good? That could be distracting as well.  Does their body go numb? Do they become hyper aware of everything?

What's Your Character's Weakness
In the above example, Josephine has too much power to control. For her, using it is like fighting a storm. She's a danger to everyone. In my Jura series, Jade's good at using the power to enhance her hand-to-hand combat skills. She'd not good at using it for anything else. Every character has a couple of weaknesses.

What's Your Character's Skill Level
Your character could be powerful. If they don't know how to use their abilities in battle, they may do more harm than good. My characters get to know their powers, in part, by fighting each other.  They're pretty capable in battle. Doesn't mean they don't get beaten. There's always someone more powerful.

What Does the Power Do
What happens to the opponent when your character attacks? Josephine can't control the rate her power burns. If her opponent's weak, they're consumed in seconds. If your character creates ices, does it just freeze? Can they create weapons? What happens when that weapon touches someone. One of my characters can create a sword that doesn't cut. It poisons.

Be Realistic
A strange thing to include when talking about magic. Don't treat it like a Get Out of Jail Free card. Your character gets in trouble so they just magic their way out of it. Then, you kill all the suspense in your story. Why would your all-powerful character need to be afraid of anything?

Do You Need a Name
No. It's your story. If you don't want to name your magic system, you don't have to. In The Unburned Island, the Others didn't have a universal name for their abilities. Different cultures did, though. What if your magic system has incantations? In anime, they usually have to call the name of their attack to use it.

If you want to name your magic system, how would you? It's pretty much the same as naming anything else in your world. Check out the post, Naming Your Fantasy World for tips. Also, try name generators like Seventh Sanctum and Fantasy Name Generator.

More Resources
Absolute Write: Magical Fight Scenes
Writing fight scenes involving magic/martial arts