Welcome back to Action April! In previous weeks, we've covered a formula for the basic action scene and how to learn about action oriented activities from the source.
Now, I'd like to draw your attention to an unconscious element of action writing that we may not think about while we're writing it. Focus--good action has a focus. What does that mean? If you follow gaming like I do (on occasion), you may have seen this mind-blowing trailer for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. If not, check this action out (this could be a little intense for the kids)!
What is the focus of our antihero? Does he enjoy being a lightsaber-wielding wrecking ball, or does it go deeper than that? While we don't know what is "worth fighting for" or who is "worth dying for," we understand that his focus is strong enough to vanquish the obstacles before him. Opposition leads to action, but the one who has the greater purpose will have the stronger focus. It would show. What a character is to achieve ought to balance the weight of what he/she has to overcome. This focus makes for fun writing and page-turning sequences.
In other words, senseless action, or action that exists just for the sake of it, will certainly look cool, but it will outweigh your story unless you establish character goals and ambitions before charging in. Give us a reason to root for their victory or gasp if they are struck down.
Isn't it good to start in the middle of the action?
Beginning a story in the middle of the action isn't always a bad thing, but unless you invent some characters with a clear and strong focus (Star Trek), the action can be senseless or devoid of purpose (Transformers 2).
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Whatever the focus may be for your characters, you'll want to take time to consider and choose wisely before writing them into battle with their guns blazing.
Do you give your characters a focus or have them charge Rambo style? What's a good example of focus that you've seen in an action scene?
I'm David, and spackle is fun stuff!