To quote Shakespeare, “Be not too tame, but let your own discretion be your tutor; suit the action to the word, the word to the action.”
Although his verses contain some of the wittiest verbal combat in literature, Shakespeare was no slouch when it came to letting a couple of swords do the talking. A medley of fight scenes from some of Shakespeare’s best-known plays include Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Taming of the Shrew. Most of the scenes contain some kind of physical confrontation with weapons. It’s a melding of the battle of the wits and real battle. From Romeo and Juliet:
Sampson and Gregory, two servants of the house of Capulet, stroll through the streets of Verona. With bawdy banter, Sampson vents his hatred of the house of Montague. The two exchange punning remarks about physically conquering Montague men and sexually conquering Montague women. Gregory sees two Montague servants approaching, and discusses with Sampson the best way to provoke them into a fight without breaking the law. Sampson bites his thumb at the Montagues—a highly insulting gesture. A verbal confrontation quickly escalates into a fight. Benvolio, a kinsman to Montague, enters and draws his sword in an attempt to stop the confrontation. Tybalt, a kinsman to Capulet, sees Benvolio’s drawn sword and draws his own.
While stage fighting can be dangerous, sticking to the rules usually prevents accidents.
Concentration and a careful awareness of the distance between your partner and the tip of your sword, dagger or rapier are necessary. Shakespeare’s bloody scuffles depict the “dark side” of human nature. He understood jealousy, rage, anger and revenge. And he understood being human.
Sometimes my creative juices flow fast and furious while writing action scenes, but as authors we need to be mindful of our readers. In order to do that, we have to slow down and control the tempo to where we want it to go. That’s where editing comes in, deleting those over zealous scenes that I have a tendency to create, whether they make sense or not. Of course, the modern day fight scenes don’t usually involve swords, but an exciting scene can make or break an action story. Dialogue plays a part in these scenes. The characters emotions and temperament have an impact by heightening the action but can be tricky. It’s a juggling act.