Action and Adventure is a large genre of novels today. One of my favorites, in fact. A large part of these novels is, of course, action. Fist fights, gunman chases, sword duels, battle scenes: all those intense scenes that make the action a reality in the story. I have always enjoyed action in stories.
When it comes to writing it, there are some pretty main points that young writers tend to forget. They are the forgotten aspects of action scenes.
That scene where you can practically see the camera angles for each scene. See the pain but also emotion in a character’s face as they swing their weapon. Hear the dramatic music ringing through the battle as a beloved character falls. Their hand moves up slowly, and you hold your breath as you await the end of an intense fight. And then you look up from your book; all is still in your bedroom, it’s late at night and your family is all asleep. Few authors do this, but those that do, create it well. James Byron Huggins, the author of a fantastic novel called Rora, is amazing at incorporating this. You feel as though you are there for every fight that Joshua encounters, defending against the enemy for your very life. So when it comes time for you to try out the cinema impression, try to slow down those scenes. If you have to choreograph the fight ahead of time, do so. View it like a story board artist: what camera angle would you focus on?
Many times young authors like to emphasize characters in quiet scenes, rather than action scenes. They feel like they have to take a break from the story to expound on who the character is. Don’t let this happen. Action scenes are crucial for your character’s development. How do they react under pressure? How do they think when they have little time? What are the thoughts running through their head when their lives are threatened? Who would they sacrifice themselves for? Understand that your character is weak and vulnerable in action scenes: you are seeing them for who they really are. Take advantage of this; let your reader see who this character really is. Do they have a secret the reader only hears about in those intense moments that the character drops their guard? Enjoy discovering who your character is in these moments, and drop the intense focus on what kick your character will carry out. Just dig into who this character is.
This goes hand and hand with character development and plot driving. Keep the characters talking. It helps the plot to continue driving home rather than pausing for each fight or battle scene. The best I have seen of this is Ted Dekker’s Circle Series. Thomas Hunter is a martial artist in one world and an army commander in another. In each fight scene, the plot continues to flow strongly, questions are raised, and the plot builds. You also get to know each character through the scenes, while not pausing the whole story for a flashback. When dialogue flies between the hero and antagonist, it builds so much more tension and emotion. Make your characters converse as they fight, and take advantage of these moments to flesh your character out more.
A lot of us enjoy writing the action scenes, but then when it comes to the aftermath, it’s like writer’s block strikes again. A large flaw for new writers is to skip over the aftermath. They move on to the next exciting scene, forgetting they left a character back on the last page with a broken limb and busted lip. You can’t forget the effects of the action scene. Follow through with your action. It’s not all about the fight: include the aftermath and show how it has affected your character. Bryan Davis is great at doing this in his Echoes from the Edge series. After each action scene, you are given a chance to breathe as you read about how the characters were affected. In your aftermath scenes, don’t forget to emphasize how the plot has moved or changed since it took place.
You can probably tell that when it comes to writing, developing your character and plot are the biggest points. It must all tie back to that. So even when you are writing intense action, don’t throw it in there carelessly. Take great care to why it is there. Have fun and delve into your action scenes, get to know your characters, and keep the plot flowing.