Monday, January 24, 2011

Action Scenes

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers sponsored a presentation last Saturday by Ian Thomas Healy.

There are a lot of elements to writing a compelling action scene, but here are a couple to consider:

Building Blocks of an Action Scene

An action scene is a series of stunts. When you're writing, consider each stunt as a single camera shot.

The engagement in an action scene is when multiple stunts take the reader to a plot point.

And finally, the sequence occurs when multiple engagements lead to a major conflict resolution.

A sequence has more than one type of action scene. (fight, shoot out, chase, battle)

And finally, remember learning that short sentences increase the tension and speed in an action scene? If you're like me, you've read some action scenes that read like a To Do List. Short and choppy. Yuck. Glad they weren't mine. *wink* I was glad to hear some corroboration of something I've felt for some time.

Readers will read a longer compound sentence faster than they will read a short sentence. That pesky little period at the end does what it's supposed to do—it stops them. So . . . when you're looking for speed, write longer, compound sentences. When you want to make sure your reader gets a particular detail, write short. A blend is always best, in my opinion.

For the full presentation, with detail, visit Ian's website (different from the blog linked above).

CR: The Four Last Things by Timothy Hallinan.

It's all better with friends.


  1. Hi Peg!

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Ian, it was a wonderful way to spend some time on a Saturday afternoon.

    Good job!