Help with a fight/kidnapping scene in a period fanfic

I have a really pivotal scene in a Poldark fanfic that I haven’t worked in yet, but have written.

Ross had just finished getting Demelza’s gift and visiting the lawyer and bank and was headed back to the stables with Emma. He handed Emma a few coins.

“Go buy something for yourself.” He told her. Emma responded with her bright smile that he loved.

“Thank you, Ross!” she said, and went off wondering whether to buy a hair ribbon, a ginger cake, or a currant bun.

Ross had just finished saddling his horse and was headed out of the stable when out of nowhere, Emma ran smack into him. Her face was pale and she was panting. Ross saw her face and she looked terrified.

“Emma! What’s wrong?” he asked, putting his hands on her shoulders.

“I……I….saw him, Ross……” she sobbed.

“You saw who?”

“Phillip……I went into the Red Lion to buy a ginger cake….I heard his voice…I turned and I saw him in the next room.”

“Did he see you?” Ross asked, trying not to let his anger flare.

“No, his back was to me.” Emma said, finally catching her breath.

Ross stood up straight, his fists clenching and unclenching. He looked down at Emma.

“Go to the back part of the stable and don’t come out until I come for you.” He said gravely, and headed for the door.

“No, Ross! You can’t go there!” she screamed, holding him by the arm.

“Emma, as long as I’m here, he’ll never hurt you.” Ross assured her.

“But Philip’s with Mr. Warleggan!”

Ross stopped abruptly. George would surely start something if Ross made a scene. But, he had to keep Emma safe too.

“Stay here with the horse until I come back.” He said again, and Emma nodded.

Ross walked into the busy tavern. He could see George talking wiith another man; he didn’t look much older than Sam. What could a young man have done to a girl to make her so terrified of him?

Ross relized he couldn’t get in a fight; if he got arrested, Emma would be alone and unprotected. What would happen then? And then George looked up.

“Ross! I’m surprised they let you in at all.”

“I’d stay if you weren’t here, George.” Ross said, hiding his clenched fists.

“Have you met Phillip Crawley?” George asked.

Phillip turned and gave Ross a smile that made his skin crawl. Ross couldn’t keep the words back.

“Oh, George, you have friends that like violating little girls?

Phillip held his gaze, and evil sneer playing on his face.

“Things the servant’s say…nothing more than rumors.” He said defensively.

Ross remembered what Emma had done to escape.

“I heard you hurt your shoulder.” Ross implied.

“Yes,” Phillip said, “I was drunk and I fell on a decanter.”

“A decanter, or a skinny little girl with a paring knife?” Ross asked through gritted teeth.

Philip’s face turned into a grin worthy of a snake.

“Oh, Emma’s your serving wench now? What are you planning on doing with this one?”

Ross was on him in an instant, pushing Philip against the wall and knocking a picture off in the process.

“If you come near Emma again and as much as breathe on her….I’ll kill you.” Ross said in a deadly whisper. With that, Ross stormed out of the tavern, flinching as he heard Philip utter one threat;

“This isn’t over, Poldark!”

“Ross, I’m scared.” Emma said softly as she and Ross headed into the street. Ross was going to try and leave Truro as quietly and quickly as possible, taking a back alley where there appeared to be no one else. Ross led the horse with Emma walking right beside him. She grabbed his hand at least once and he could feel her shaking.

A pair of cats started yowling, startling the horse. Ross turned away to try and calm it, and then he heard Emma scream just as a huge fist smashed into his face. Emma was being held by two men and was struggling to get away while Ross was being beaten by a hulking man, preventing him from coming to her rescue. Ross fought hard, seeing Emma being thrown into a cart. She looked at Ross and called out for him, her eyes wide with fear. Her scream was the last thing Ross heard before the cudgel connected with his skull.

When he came to, both Emma and the cart were gone.

There’s more to it after that, but that’s the main part. Is there a way I could make it better?

Hi again Samantha!

I think the dialogue in the barn and the tavern are good. I have some tips on writing action, if you’re interested.

Keep the action in Ross’ head. He just got punched in the face! That’s incredibly disorienting, not to mention painful, so it may take him a few moments to get his bearings. When you’re in a fight, logic sort of goes out the window, so simplifying your language will help sell the chaos of the scene without making it completely confusing.
Think of each sentence like a single image:

  1. Ross sees Emma held by two men
  2. Ross is kicked in the ribs while he’s on the ground
  3. Emma screams and struggles against the men holding her
  4. Ross rolls over onto his back and sees the guy beating on him: he’s huge, and angry
  5. Ross sees his opponent’s leg is near, so he kicks him in the knee and staggers the guy
  6. Ross sees Emma get loaded into a cart
  7. Because he’s looking at Emma, he doesn’t see the other guy recover, grab him by the shoulders, and punch him across the jaw
  8. Ross sees Emma cry out, eyes wide with fear, (Just like you have it) but his vision is blocked by the guy’s boot. He looks up in time to see the cudgel as it knocks him out.

When writing action, you want to be really hyper focused on what is happening when and to whom. There are some great YouTube videos about how great action scenes are shot in movies: I’ve found these very helpful in writing action. (I’ve also done some fight choreography for films and plays.) Check out this video about how Jackie Chan shoots action and comedy. Edgar Wright and Sam Raimi also shoot very clean “cause and effect” action: this fight in Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell is an excellent example.

In the above clip, Raimi is always showing us exactly what we need to see.

  1. She’s being choked
  2. She fumbles around for a weapon
  3. She finds the stapler
  4. She hits the old lady with the stapler

Everything has a very simple logic and is easy to follow. Try to keep that in mind when you’re writing your own action and you’ll be fine.

(This doesn’t just apply to fights. Anything with a lot of movement benefits from this style: a chase, a dance, even lots of people moving around a room.)

Hope this is helpful!

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Thanks! I’ll try to work it in!

This definitely works because Ross is a fighter and wouldn’t go down easy.

Yeah, that’s clear in what you’ve written already: he keeps his head and isn’t too shocked by the first impact

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