Friday, February 24, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#90) -- Action Scenes

What advice do you have for writing compelling action scenes?

We actually covered some of this in panels at Con Nooga this past weekend so it's fresh on my mind.

1. I've found that when you vary your sentence lengths during action scenes, particularly when you shorten your sentences or make them choppy even, you increase the speed of reading and the pace of the action.

2. Pay attention to the sounds in your sentences. Hard sounds, like K and P and D sounds, slow down the reading while softer sounds, such as C and S and Z sounds keep the speed of reading fast.

3. Choose your details sparingly. Don't bog down the action with long descriptions of Stephen Donaldson's mountain ranges when you need the details instead that focus on the blood, the punches, and the movement. The same holds true for your internal monolog. Unless your character is a contemplative monk who explores the spiritual even in his fighting, he's not going to have long, thoughtful ponderings during an action scene.

4. Ask yourself: "What would Chuck Dixon or Beau Smith do?"