When we talk about fight scenes in this Write Like a Fighter series, I’m often giving you tips on how to make sure your character wins. How to fight from a disadvantage and make it realistic. However, there’s one important element we need to talk about: failure.

Your character may have a solid plan, but not every strike is going to land. Sometimes your protagonist is going to fail. They’re going to get hurt, they’re going to screw up, and it’s going to make the scene more realistic and better endear your character to the reader.

Nobody wants to read about the hero who has no flaws. Same goes for having every fight scene where everything happens perfectly. One of the best takeaways from my Krav Maga training is to never stop fighting. Learning to be aggressive until it’s over is actually harder than you think. It took me quite some time to adopt the mentality of “this person tried to hurt me, I will go into kickass mode until I feel safe.” What does that mean for fight scenes?

Three words: Just don’t stop.

When things go wrong, have your character reassess and just keep driving toward the attacker. There’s a mental element here. The idea of not backing up is good for your character mentally, and bad for the attacker because if you keep moving in on them, they’re the ones running away.

Boy, that escalated quickly.

Keep your character swinging, kicking, scratching, whatever it takes to stay in the fight. Adaptability (or lack thereof) can make or break a fight. It can also make for a more vivid scene, because it allows for more internal exposition and self-assessment.

Oh, and you’re welcome to consider this general writing advice, too. I’m edging toward the end of my Sekrit Project and I’m super in love in with it. Chances are I’ll tweet excerpts when I hit the editing phase, because I’m wont to do so.

Important note: These posts are provided as informational for writing fight scenes. If you want to learn self-defense techniques, I highly advise taking a Krav Maga class. Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to handling stress situations.