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Action Scenes - 6 Rules To Writing Better Action

By Author: Phillip Alexander
Total Articles: 34

Most often Action Scenes need work. This will take you through and show the different steps to taking your action scenes to the next level.
Let's see how you go about making an action scene.
First you have a section you know has action such as:
Armond held the gun. His hand shook as he pointed it at Kalin-the man who'd once been his friend. He'd betrayed him so many years ago, sent him to live in bondage with the other changelings.
Kalin held out his hands, his gold sword shining in the pale light at his feet where he'd dropped it when Armond pulled the gun. "Are you really going to kill me, Armond?"
Armond nodded angrily. "Yes." He pulled the trigger.
This could definitely use some work. But how do you go about it?
Follow these 6 rules and you'll be well on your way.
Step 1: Dump or spread out description.
If you're all tense and in a battle, do you notice little details? Or would you notice that they're about to hit you with their sword? I think it's the latter. Tons of description will bog down your action. Use more description in more relaxed, lazy times.
Step 2: Word Choice
If action is quick use words that imply speed ai: flash, whirl, sped
Step 3: Short sentences
Subject - verb sentences are better for action. They're faster than other sentences. Like your action should be.
Step 4: Short paragraphs.
If there's something you wish to stress, make it into a teeny tiny paragraph of its own, usually one or two sentences. Doing that puts more tension and makes the short sentences work better. Attention is drawn to whatever you put into a small paragraph.
Step 5: Congruity
The short sentences don't flow together well yet, because of so much repetition. It could be enhanced by changing the subject-verb pattern in a couple places, but don't do it often, or you may ruin the effect.
Step 6: Structure and fragments
Sometimes you can have good wording, but if you change the word order, or make it a sentence fragment you will get the effect more. Yes, it may not be proper English, regrettably, but it can totally change your scene for the better. That is, if you do not overuse it. If you do overuse your fragments, your congruity will be totally ruined and the scene will be stumbled over by your readers.
So let's go through these steps and see what we come up with.
Step 1: Dump or Spread out description.
Armond held the gun. His hand shook as he pointed it at Kalin-the man who'd once been his friend. He'd betrayed him so many years ago, sent him to live in bondage with the other changelings.
Kalin held out his hands, his gold sword shining in the pale light at his feet where he'd dropped it when Armond pulled the gun. "Are you really going to kill me, Armond?"
Armond nodded angrily. "Yes." He pulled the trigger.
STEP 2: Word Choice
Now this little blurb could use a makeover of words including making it more active. All of this falls into word choice.
Armond clutched the cold metal of the gun as a fiery point of indecision lodged deep in his chest. Armond held the gun. His hand shook as he pointed it at Kalin-the man who'd once been his friend. His fingers trembled as he stared at the man who should be his best friend.
Kalin lifted his hands in surrender, the golden sword clattering against the rubble at his feet. held out his hands, his sword shining in the pale light at his feet."Are you really going to kill me, Armond?"
Armond nodded angrily. Anger solidified within and Armond's hand steadied. "Yes." He pulled the trigger.The lock clicked and the gun bucked against his palm as a flash of light flooded his sight.
STEP 3: Short Sentences-Action scenes need short sentences. It keeps the pace going and sucks the reader in.
Armond clutched the cold metal of the gun. as a A fiery point of indecision lodged deep in his chest. His fingers trembled as he stared at the man who should be his best friend.
Kalin lifted his hands in surrender. , tThe golden sword clattereding against the rubble at his feet. "Are you really going to kill me, Armond?"
Anger solidified within and Armond's hand steadied. The lock clicked. and t The gun bucked.against his palm as a A flash of light flooded his sight.
STEP 4: Short paragraphs-this already has pretty short paragraphs so we'll skip this step for this example, but when looking at your own WIP make sure the paragraphs are short and if you want to emphasize something make it its own paragraph.
STEP 6: Structure and fragments
The cold metal of the gun bit into Armond's hand, the lock fixed against his finger. A fiery point of indecision lodged deep in his chest. His fingers trembled as he stared at the man who should be his best friend. The man who'd betrayed him. The man who'd sent him burning in this pit of hell he called a camp.
Today that would end. Today he would be free.
The sword fell from Kalin's hands, clattering against the rubble at his feet. He lifted his hands in surrender. "Are you really going to kill me, Armond?"
Anger solidified. Armond's hand steadied. "Yes." The metal clicked. The gun bucked. A flash of light flooded his sight.
See the difference?
Now it's your turn. First take the following paragraph (yes I know it's horrible) and try to break it up, make it better. After that write or correct a scene of your own.

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