How to Apply Writing Techniques for Action Scenes

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Unsure of how to make your action scenes less boring? Or more subtle? Well, look no further, here are some useful writing techniques that can make your scenes more accurate and action-packed! Read on, and enjoy.

  • Short sentences. Choppy. One action, then another. When there's a lull in the fight, it's best to use longer phrases to analyze the situation before diving back into suspense. The same thing applies with words — short, simple, and strong in the thick of battle.

  • Focus on actions, not thoughts. Characters don't dwell on things when they're in the heat of the moment. That would just result in them getting bashed in the face (Ouch).

  • Try cutting out as many adverbs as possible. Without them, the scene will flow better, seem more smooth when reading.

  • If there's ever a time to use the strongest verbs, it's now. Some examples could be bellow, thrash, splinter, bolt, hurtle, crumble, shatter, charge, raze, seize, etc...

  • Don't forget your other scenes. People might not even be sure what they saw during a fight, but they always know how they felt. The characters could feel their sore, tense muscles, the exhaustion in their limbs, blood pounding through every inch of their body. They could feel their mouth dry, or taste salt from sweat dripping down their face. They could taste the copper tang of blood or any other strong flavour in their mouth that's congruous with the setting they're in.

  • Pain will stay with a character. Even if it's minor.

  • Sound and sight might blur or sharpen depending on the character's experience and condition during the fight. Colours and quick movements will catch the eye. Loud sounds or noises may serve as a fighter's only warning before an attack.

  • If something unexpected happens, shifting the character's attention to that thing will shift the reader's audience as well.

  • Aftermath. This is where the details resurface, the characters pick up things they set aside during the fight (literally and metaphorically). Fights are chaotic and pretty fast-paced. Characters know only their self, their goals, their obstacles, and the quickest way around them. The aftermath is when they regain their emotions, their relationships, their rationality, and anything else they couldn't afford to think of when everything was at stake and their lives were on the line.

  • Do everything you can to keep the fight here and now. Maximize the physical. Minimize the theoretical. Keep things immediate — no what ifs.

  • If you're writing a strategist, keep strategy to before-and-after fights. Lay out plans in calm periods, and try guessing what the enemies are thinking/might do. During combat, however, the character should think about his/her options, enemies, and terrain, according to shape and direction. (Like — large enemy rushing at me; dive left, circle around / arena on fire, pool below me / two foes helping each other, separate them.)

  • Lastly, after writing, read it aloud. Wherever your tongue catches up on a fast moving scene, edit and smooth it down. It's likely that smooth action scenes won't come to you right away, but if you apply these techniques into action scenes, they will sound, look, and feel much better!

Camp NaNoWriMo update:

So it's been almost three weeks into camp and I've been keeping up with my goal, surprisingly enough! On some days, it was harder to push myself out of a slump and get my hands on the keyboard, but once I did, I didn't stop. I guess the main reason was because I kept my long-term goal in mind and used it as a drive. For motivation, what really helped me was creating moodboards and cartoons of my story characters! I really suggest getting creative with your work in progress, whether it's collecting pieces of art or choosing songs that personify the vibe of your story! Let me know what your methods are for getting inspiration and staying driven to write! I'll see you in the next post, until next time xx

credit goes to: ave-aria on Tumblr

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