#A-Z Challenge: A is for Action

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For the A-Z challenge, I am posting writing and editing tips to help you improve and enhance your writing. Today, I’m looking at writing action scenes.

A is for Action

action

Action scenes don’t necessarily mean huge battles, violence, gunfights or crime. While this might be the case in Hollywood blockbusters, action scenes are important in your fiction – they create drama, interest, allow characters to develop and move your plot forward.

An action scene can involve something as seemingly simple as an unexpected phone call or a surprise visitor. What’s important is to carry your reader along with the action, and to write scenes that move your characters forward, building tension and giving your characters opportunities to develop and grow.

Here are a few tips for writing effective action scenes:

  • Have events happen in real time. This helps your reader feel involved in the scene and brings them closer to a character.
  • Use physical movements but don’t describe every single action in great detail.
  • Have your character make quick decisions and react quickly to the situation/event.
  • Minimise dialogue, especially if it creates a pause in the action.
  • Choose the verbs you use carefully for maximum effect.
  • If you’re having trouble visualising the actions involved in the scene, act it out! (It helps if you can get someone else to join in!)
  • Read other writers and see how they write successful or unsuccessful action scenes. What didn’t work can be as important as what did work.
  • Keep it real. Unless you’re writing fantasy, where anything is physically possibly, keep the scenes within the bounds of reality (see acting it out above!)

Got any tips for writing action scenes? Do let me know by posting a comment below.

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20 comments

  1. Interesting and informative – thank you for sharing. Apart from being an author myself (at the moment writing a pirate-based adventure fantasy series – so lots of action scenes!) I am also the Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews and the books with well-written action scenes that are submitted to us always stand out above the (I don’t want to say dull, but it really is the only applicable word!) non-action ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Helen. I write historical fiction too – and as an editor I have noticed that there tends to be a lack of ‘action’ scenes in historical novels, which is a shame. Though as you’re writing pirate-based historical fiction I’m sure that’s not an issue for you!

      Like

  2. Do you also look at action as you would in theater as don’t have a movement with a purpose? I find at times when I go back through my drafts I find those silly moments of describing something that has nothing to do with anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for following – much appreciated 🙂 I had to write a piece for theatre as part of my Masters – very difficult to think about all those movements, the positions on stage etc, and it was eye-opening to think about how all those movements could be construed. And yes, I also find it interesting to go back through drafts and see things that really have no relevance at all. That’s why I enjoy editing so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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