Fighting as Storytelling

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Photo via Showtime Boxing

I’ve been watching lots of fights lately. Boxing, UFC, and even the bare-knuckle stuff (which I enjoy, but also can’t believe it’s legal). People often ask me why an intelligent, literate dude like me enjoys watching people beat the crap out of each other. They say my love of combat sports runs in contradiction to my personality. An easy answer would be to simply say people are full of contradictions, and then just put it to bed, but this is a blog, so let’s dig a little deeper.

I’m both a storytelling enthusiast and a storyteller myself.

A fight is the oldest and most primal type of story there is.

Before I dive into this further, I want to clarify a couple of things. First, I’m not a meathead. I don’t fancy myself a tough guy, by any means. Second, I think fighting outside of a sanctioned, sporting event is almost always foolish and unnecessary.

With that out of the way, what is a fight, really?

Two combatants who want the same thing (a win, sometimes a championship). Each of them must stop the other in order to accomplish this goal.

So, what’s a story?

Two characters who want the same thing (a win, usually some form of self-fulfillment). Each of them must stop the other in order to accomplish this goal.

Here are some random examples off the top of my head:

In MOANA, the lead character hopes to restore the world to its previously balanced state. The lava monster Te Kā, a heartless shell of the goddess Te Fiti, also wants to balance the world. Their methods are different (much like each fighter has their own style). Moana seeks restoration. Te Kā seeks the eradication of humanity.

In STAR WARS, the rebels and their Jedi allies seek balance to the galaxy. They believe restoring the Republic is the way to do so. The Empire and their Sith allies also seek that balance, but by contrast, they believe domination and the destruction of the Jedi is the key to achieving this goal.

In my book SAINT SADIST, the protagonist sets out on the road, not just to escape an abusive environment, but to become herself. The multiple antagonists she faces aim to mold her into who they believe is the most perfect version of herself. Their methods are abusive and their visions for her are skewed because they aren’t her.

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In a mystery, the criminal wishes to get away with their crime, while the detective hopes to solve the crime. While their goals are different, they, like fighters, aim to outdo the other in their achievement of their goal.

In a romance, the hero and the heroine, are both looking for love. They often find themselves at odds with each other, because their own damage prevents them from seeing how perfectly matched they are. “Love is a battlefield,” as Pat Benatar said, and like fighters with good sportsmanship, the battle ends when the combatants, no matter how bloody, embrace each other.

I could go on and on.

Perhaps, I’m simplifying things, but I don’t think so.

 

 

Tag Team Writing

As I write this, I’m getting ready to chat with critic and filmmaker Scout Tafoya about a project we hope to collaborate on. We haven’t properly worked together since 2013 when we wrote and he filmed the psychosexal alien thriller Epigenesis, which is currently under submission at various festivals. I always learn so much when he and I talk. We are both critical of some of the pretensions present in this wave of “elevated” horror. His films, while not for everybody, have a naturalism and a humanism that I long to see whenever I go to the movies. Also, his video essays are must-see content. I’m excited to see what we come up with together.

Speaking of collaborations, I’m nearly 30,000 words into a novel co-written by myself and extreme horror luminary Ryan Harding. It’s a tribute of sorts to the insane Demons franchise, set during an underground pro-wrestling show.

Actually, a lot of what I have in the works are collaborative projects. Co-writing a book can be a disaster. Sometimes there’s a styles clash, other times one partner takes the project more seriously than the other. Any number of things can go wrong. But when you’ve got a clear, mutual vision, man, it can be like lightning in a bottle. I plan to write more about collaborating sometime soon. Just not sure if I want to do it here or on my Patreon page.

Speaking of, I’ve posted 25 more pages of Blood and Brimstone, the sequel to Flesh and Fire. You can access them for as little as a dollar right here. Being back in this world is almost like collaborating with myself. There’s a lot of distance between me and this project’s initial inception. I think it will lead to some tighter writing, since I’m less attached to passages I may have to end up cutting. We’ve got 50-ish pages left of Blood and Brimstone, then I’ll start a new serial novel for patrons. I’m thinking it will be a novelization of my yet to be filmed paranormal thriller Seedlings. With the screenplay written, I’ve already got the bones for a novel. I just need to give it some muscles and skin.


Last night I watched the low-budget video nasty Invasion of the Blood Farmers for the first time. It had quite a charm to it. I’d recommend to fans of ultra cheap, campy horror movies.

I’m currently reading To Wallow in Ash and Other Sorrows by Sam Richard, a writer who I’m proud to call a contemporary.


That’s it for now, gang. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RealLucasMangum.