Author Topic: Advice for writing action scenes?  (Read 1397 times)

JamieRowett

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Advice for writing action scenes?
« on: December 20, 2010, 11:39:01 PM »
I've realised that I cannot write an action scene.  I read them all the time, but I still cannot write one.  The ones I do write end up short and not exactly detailed, even when re-reading them myself I find them bland.

So any tips on how to write a good strong action sequence?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2010, 11:54:36 PM by JamieRowett »

Ottilie

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Re: Advice for writing action scenes?
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2010, 09:31:26 AM »
I'm the opposite; I find I am very good at writing action scenes, but I find it difficult to write the more mundane bits in between. I'm not sure how much advice I can offer... I just watch it play out in my head and write it how I see it. It's more complicated than that, but it's hard to describe because it kind of comes naturally. All those years of writing star trek fan fiction I suppose :P
- Chloe Unrau

JamieRowett

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Re: Advice for writing action scenes?
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2010, 12:31:04 PM »
I've tried watching it play out in my head but they just end up really short.  I can imagine a scene and see what's happening, yet I still have trouble extending so it lasts a good full A4 page with lots of action to keep reader's interested.

I don't know whether I should include lots of details about the background (i.e. senses, location etc.), or to just go straight for the action.  While describing the background creates depth, it can also be boring.  And going straight for the action is alright, but it just ends up too short.  I've tried to find a balance, but am still having a bit of difficulty.   :-\

Silk

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Re: Advice for writing action scenes?
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2010, 08:35:56 PM »
Writing Excuses did a podcast on this a while back.

Ottilie

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Re: Advice for writing action scenes?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2010, 06:10:20 AM »
I've tried watching it play out in my head but they just end up really short.  I can imagine a scene and see what's happening, yet I still have trouble extending so it lasts a good full A4 page with lots of action to keep reader's interested.

I don't know whether I should include lots of details about the background (i.e. senses, location etc.), or to just go straight for the action.  While describing the background creates depth, it can also be boring.  And going straight for the action is alright, but it just ends up too short.  I've tried to find a balance, but am still having a bit of difficulty.   :-\

I think background and setting description, at least those you want the reader to know for the scene, should be established before the action starts. When someone's running through a neighbourhood being chased by gun-totting hoodlums, they are in fight or flight mode, and that is exactly what I want to put the reader through to make the action genuine. In fight or flight, you are thinking about immediate survival, not how green the grass is or the popularity of certain architecture styles.

I'd suggest thinking about what needs to happen, and how long the action scene should appropriately be.... both how long in the character's world, and how long you want the reader to be reading it. If the duration of the scene is long enough to fit the amount of time you want the reader to read it, and you are having trouble writing it that long, then I suggest describing the character's *thoughts*.

Here's an example:

James reached the unguarded back gate of the lumberyard and stumbled; he hadn't thought ahead about what he'd do once he actually got here! Shots fired behind him and he sprinted through the gate, his mind racing. What now? MacCollin was trying to kill him. Kill him! Fear fuel'd his legs, and instinct took over his thoughts. Come on, think! The yard was a maze, and he could loose them in there, but they'd find him eventually... he needed to get rid of them... for good! The mill was as dangerous a place as any, but there would be security there, and security would call the police. That would be just as bad for James as it would be for MacCollin and his goons. Probably worse. Seconds passed as he turned over his options. The loading bay! There were crowbars in the trucks there, and it would be quiet enough to take out all three of them... if he was careful and hid among the trucks. He plotted his course to the loading bay. He had to kill or be killed. He could do that. Couldn't he? He didn't have a choice.

That was about 5 seconds of in-world time, and is a decent sized paragraph. It's not a fabulous example of literature by any means, but I hope it helps demonstrate what I mean.

If you think I'm qualified, you can PM me an example of one of your action scenes, if you like. I'd be happy to give a specific critique.

:)
- Chloe Unrau