Writing action scenes means picking details.
Readers, have you ever read an action scene and it made you feel dizzy?
You are not alone.
This happens when the writer wants to put every single detail of the scene inot the scene, on the page, and in your mind. This is a really kind want of a writer, but the thing is that it doesn’t really work.
Writers, I’m talking to you now. Take off your reader hat and just put on your writer hat while I tell you this: You do not want to make your readers swoony in a bad way.
When you tell us every single characters’ actions, thoughts, emotions, and placement in an action scene, it overwhelms us. So, what you want to do is pick and choose here.
You want to pick and choose:
1. The characters that have the most at stake emotionally and physically.
2. The characters that the reader is the most attached to.
The best way to deal with this is to usually try to stay super close to your protagonist during the action scene. Make sure that you are writing the scene from the viewpoint of that characters. If your puppy main character is watching a Star Wars style space battle, you want to make sure you tell it from that puppy’s point of view.
Our jobs as writers is to pick and choose the details that matter and then trust the reader to recreate that scene in their brains. We don’t want to distract them with the color of the puppy’s collar unless that matters.
If we do the opposite, if we show the reader every little action that happens, then we risk boring the hell out of them, but also we don’t give them to focus on.
Spoiler: You want them to focus on your protagonist and then maybe the antagonist. You want them to focus on the stakes, what your hero wants, and what’s standing in her way.
Think of it like this: You are a movie director. The page is your camera. You want to put the things in focus that matter.
Masterclass has this lovely tidbit.
That’s all a direct quote. What I love about it is that it talks about the most important part.
You don’t want a sword fight in there just for the sake of a sword fight. That sword fight or the hamster zombie troop running down the street after you needs to be there for a purpose.
Once you have that purpose, pick the details.
I think I’ll probably talk more about this next time, too. I hope you’re doing well and safe. It’s snowing madly here right now. And poor Shaun’s just had his third cancer (in less than a year) scraped out of his hand. He’s had three types of skin cancer in one year. This is the kind of overachieving we don’t want. 🙂
I’m posting writing tips and things about how we’re trying to live better lives over here if you want to check it out. My regular website is here. No pressure though, obviously. Thanks for reading this! And happy writing.