Thursday, April 7, 2011

Aspiring Advice: Springing Into Action!


While not every story is epic, action is a prominent (and expected) aspect of science fiction and fantasy. Don't get me wrong. Thrillers, mysteries, romance, slice-of-life, and others all have action in them, depending on what they're aiming for. A dogfight in space, a mafia car chase, and a bully confrontation will more than likely not have the same elements, but they will have one thing in common--a sequence of events that propels a scene to some conclusion. Action is different in every genre, and is arguably one of the more difficult things to write.

For the next month, We'll discuss action, and lots of it, including a few tips and tricks to help improve your page-flipping sequences. Let's spring into Action April!

This week: the basic action scene.

Imagine an action scene as a mini-story within your story. That means a basic story arc can be applied. An introduction (confrontation), rising action (engagement, reaction, and repeat), climax (contact/final blow), falling action (consequence), and conclusion (result).

Something like this.

How you do this is up to what a scene requires, be it gunslinging or fisticuffs, or escaping from something horrible, but you should be aware of pacing and focus. If there are too many details, readers might get bored. Not enough and readers might not know what's going on. Having the focus set on one character's point of view is the universal recommendation. Any more than that and it becomes more difficult to write and read.

Ever read Redwall? I love that omniscient book to death and all, but it's easy to lose track of who is doing what.

My first adventure involved deep-space military. You can imagine the fun I had learning to balance action. It served as an exercise in disguise. While challenging, I enjoy scenes of action just as much as dialogue.

This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Action is a wide topic, and is different for everyone. Approach it and write what excites you, though it never hurts to play around with multiple scenarios.

What makes a good action scene? What are some excellent examples that you've seen or read?

I'm David, and lights, camera, ACTION!


  1. I love your plot acr. I guess a good action scene should have short sentences to amke it fast paced :O)

  2. I think half of any good action scene is suspense—making readers lean forward and bite their nails wondering what's going to happen to the characters. The rest of a good action scene is the danger of the action itself and the consequences of the action.

  3. I love the action in the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars by Cartoon Network. This series is pure adrenaline from start to finish with lightsabers flaring and ships exploding over strange worlds.

  4. Hands down my favorite part to read and the part I hate most to write. Those are the scenes I spend more time plotting and outlining than anything else. But that nifty chart might expedite it now.

  5. Now, I'm no expert (after all, I write pretty girly stuff) but when it comes to an exciting action scene, I want to see very punctuated writing. No wordiness. Short yet descriptive phrases to let the action come through. I also need to care about the characters to really enjoy the action scenes. Great topic!