Make Every Word Count #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #amwriting
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This month, I have to be brief. Daylight hours have slipped through my paint stained fingers. I’ve been doing so many projects around my home. I wish I had more time. I don’t.
Today, I’m thinking about writing tight action scenes, a skill I’ve recently become comfortable doing. The important thing as you write action is to write, then cut. Read, and cut some more. I found a great article to get my thoughts rolling by Write it Side Ways and feel free to visit it for more details.
What are the tips I’ve learned?
There are three I can think of:
1. Pick strong verbs.
2. Write quickly, pointedly.
3. Imagine the stress, the out of breath state your character(s) might be in, and make the dialogue or internal reflections brief to reflect this realist situation.
An example using all three points from my favorite book, A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (page 60):
It takes me another second for the pain to register. Blood is in my mouth. His hand draws back to hit me again.
I jab my arm down against his back. He jerks a little and his hand falls.
I stabbed him. I stabbed him.
Part of me wants to burst into tears.
A darker part of me wants to celebrate.
A personal example in the moment, using all three, and not quite as sharp.
Cautiously, I step through a darkened doorway. My heart hammers so loud, the pound of it echoes in my ears. I don’t see her. She’s here. I feel it in my blood. I can’t explain it. A sister knows a sister.
“Fight me!” Her scream echoes through the warehouse. Overhead, the metal ducts rattle with the fire in her voice. I shirk forward—turn.
A shadow shifts side to side. I hold my breath, waiting. My eyes adjust to the dark. It’s a bag. My shoulders release. A stupid boxing bag.
“Come on then.” I ready my hands, knowing she’s back there, somewhere. “Come get me if you want me.”
Posted on June 17, 2020, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.
Action scenes have to be rapid. You have to capture the blur of the moment.
Great tips. And I love that you show examples. Good luck with your home projects.
Thank you Natalie. I find brief examples are most helpful to me 🙂
Thanks for your thoughts on action scenes. Yes, short and filled with action. That first example reminds me of listening to music. Stacatto beats are rapid, short notes just like these sentences.
Love. This! I’m always about learning new tips… thank you! I need to get better at writing action so this helps so much.
That was helpful, Erika. Your suggestions make a lot of sense.
Nice work, Erika. Really well done!
Anna from elements of emaginette
Thank you Anna 🙂
That’s good advice on action scenes. Sentences also need to be short to show urgency.
Thanks for laying this out succinctly and clearly, Erika. The tip about shortened dialogue and introspection is a new one for me. Thanks!
Sentence and word length is definitely one of the more powerful “small scale” tools for pacing (I feel). Most audiences will be so focused on the meaning of the words, they won’t realize the effect the literal words themselves are having on their experience.
In theory a person can read a story at any pace they like, but something about those shorter sentences just pull them along.
…that makes me wonder if it would work well to write sentences that feel slightly “incomplete.” For example, a sentence could read “I stabbed. I stabbed again.” And audiences would subconsciously be left hanging with “what did they stab?”
Of course, this could also come off as “bad writing.” Still, definitely interesting, and maybe worth experimenting with.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Not many in my social circle share my level of interest with words and writing, so posts like this often feel like a chance to “have a conversation” (of sorts) with someone who understands.
I love playing with words and sentence length. I enjoy reading it too. It does add tremendously to the mood and tension. I like your example. It is rather intriguing:)
Couldn’t agree more with this. Good luck with the home projects.
“A sister knows a sister.” OH MY GOD, I NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.
You are so kind, Raimey!
That example you shared sucked me in! Where is this book and how can I find it?