Action Verbs for Fighting Scenes

Last week, a student in my tutorial at Hollins University delivered a presentation on techniques to bolster fighting scenes. Now I have to confess that I’m the sort of person who covers her eyes during fighting sequences in film. I was the kid who would watch the television show LOST IN SPACE, a campy science fiction offering, from behind the couch. And when it comes to fiction, I’m much the same. I read quickly–sometimes even skimming, if there is gore or violence.

I’m the person who, when she read the HUNGER GAMES the first time, had to skim the middle. Yes, I know my first name should be spelled WIMP (or, alternatively, you can extol my sensitivity).

I’m the person who had nightmares reading the fight scenes and monstrous aberrations in Julia Baggott’s PURE, an adult/YA crossover novel. (I felt less alone knowing that Baggott says that her comfort zone is not fighting and consulted her husband who is a fighting aficionado to help with her combat scenes in the novel).

I’m the person who when my dear friend suggested I take up tae kwon do with her, merely laughed and said that I’d stick to walking thank you very much!

And yet I’m the person who loved the fantasy GRACELING, and Cashore’s novel is about a character whose grace (special ability) is fighting.

And while I’ve only tackled verbal battles in my published fiction, I am currently wrestling a WIP that (cough cough) features some fighting and gorier moments. So who knows, maybe, just maybe, I will actually try some tae kwon do–or at least watch it!

So that is why I was so pumped up to hear a presentation on fighting techniques–it’s really way out of my comfort zone. My student delivered some very insightful tips, and one of them was punching up your fight scenes with strong action verbs.

Oh, I love action verbs and am constantly on the lookout for kick-butt ones. So naturally, I suggested that we brainstorm as a class a list of such verbs. And what is the point of collective brainstorming unless you are going to share, right?

So intrepid writers out there, here is a sock’em up, punch ’em, oofing, ahhing, kicking, slicing and dicing list for you to use in your own writing!



  1. Thank you so much! This was a big help <3.

  2. Forlorn Ghost says:

    this was really helpful. thanks.

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