Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everybody Likes a Little Action

I have finished the main climactic action scene in my current project but I am far from satisfied with how it turned out. It need a lot of work, I think, and I fear that I lost the momentum of the action somewhere along the way. The problem is that I have no idea where to even start to fix the scene. Right now I still have some loose ends to tie up to finish the story but then it's into editing and that climax is going to need some attention.

James Scott Bell wrote a post over on The Kill Zone about How to Write Action Scenes that I found interesting. He sites Dean Koontz extensively and particularly refers to an action scene that lasts 17 pages. At first I thought it was crazy to have an action scene last that long - wouldn't the reader get bored and zone out somewhere in the middle? But maybe I'm putting unnecessary constraints and expectations on how my action scenes should look and flow. It would be awesome if I could keep my readers enthralled for 17 pages!

Bell offers a couple points of advice: "...take advantage of all the elements of fiction writing ­­–- dialogue, internal thoughts, description and action -- and use them to show us what's happening inside and outside the viewpoint character." He also urges the writer to quit worrying about reality so much and instead focus on the emotional effect of your fiction.

These are great points but I still have some questions: How detailed does do the descriptions need to be? How do I keep my reader engaged throughout the whole scene, even when there is more talking going on rather than action? Do multiple viewpoints help the story or hinder the flow?

What do you think? How do you write action scenes? What parts do you struggle with and how do you fix those parts in editing?


Teresa said...

With lots of pronouns (so says my crit group)! ;-) Action scenes are hard for me, because I don't want the reader to get lost during the action. So sometimes I over explain. I rely on my crit group to tell me when I've got it right.

Good luck!

RZStoryLove said...

That sound like a great idea! Who else but your readers to tell you when you've got it right? Guess I better find a writing group...