Thursday, 14 July 2011

Keep it Tense: Action Scenes

Have you ever been frustrated writing a tense action sequence? What should be tense and immediate wanders slowly to an ending like an explosion in slow-motion. The truth is it’s not difficult to make your action scenes stand out, if you keep a few things in mind.

Long action scenes are boring. Action scenes are often packed with information, move and counter-moves that will leave the reader breathless. The longer you drag out the sequence, the more likely your reader is going to lose that sense of immediacy and just move on.

This is not the time for flowery prose. Wax philosophical about the moon some other time, right now all your character knows is he’s in trouble and he needs to act now.

For me, the discovery of the concept of the MRU improved my action scenes significantly. The idea of the MRU is that you break up the action of your story into two-beat units of motivation followed by reaction. This is a deep point of view trick that is even more important for action scenes. The basics are simple: Something happens, and the character responds.

Keep the danger immediate and real. Don’t bother with the motivations of the scene’s antagonists, just describe their actions so that the reader knows the threat presented to the protagonist.

In fight scenes, the reaction will be active. Movements and immediate decisions make for realistic responses. Thoughts should be short, feelings should be displayed through their action, and dialogue needs to be even more crisp than normal.

Tie all of these together and you’ve got a fight scene that should be well liked by your reader. Just don’t go overboard, too much of a good thing can spoil.

No comments:

Post a Comment