People say I'm pretty good with action scenes in my books. I've won second place in a action catogory in a contest once on the first draft of one of my books. lol I usually can picture things in my head pretty good like a movie, for fighting scenes I just put in music and go. Mostly Bad Reputation by Joan Jet because it's got a good action kind of beat to it.
I tend to think I am pretty good at it, actually. Sometimes I go so far as to think it has or is becoming one of my strengths as a writer. Particularly with fights. What helped me?
Learning to fight.
I think that all the time I've spent, in my life, studying martial arts has done a lot for helping me write fight scenes. It gives me theoretical knowledge and practical experience to apply. Also, studying how others write action scenes is helpful. That should be obvious. I'm less good at guns and cars because I don't drive and have never shot a gun. If I wanted to get better at them, I'd go learn. I think experience is one of the best steps you could take to improve.
I don't think I'm that good with them, at least not in making them elaborate. That's why most of the time the action I write is very short and basic. I don't go describing in amazing details how awesome the fight is or how the characters make some hard to believe martial arts moves and back flips and what have you. Things just end up short and bloody and in your face without much decorations. I suppose that sort of style has its appeal in the world of fantasy seeing as the genre is usually peppered with elaborate fights.
I'm no R.A. Salvatore who can have three chapters in a row with nothing but action. And he makes it work.
I.E. In one scene, someone is being chased by someone else down a flight of stairs with windows by them. He knows he can't outrun him, since the person trapped him in the building, set off timed explosives and blah blah. So the person is going to come down the stairs, and he needs to find a way to stop him. The person knowing he expects him to walk down instead starts coming down on a line he attached on the outside of the wall, on the other side. However, the first person expected this, and had set off a explosive by a window above his own floor, since he knew the person would have some type of heat vision goggles or something and know exactly where he is, trying to quietly come down, blow out the window and snipe him. But the window above blew out, and before the guy could react, he runs up the stairs, jumps out the window, grabs on to the line, and slides down, kicking him. In the meantime, the explosives explode after all, and the building starts to collapse, so they are fighting while slowly falling down, still attached to the line, and eventually once the building is at an angle where they can stand, sliding then eventually running downside it all while still fighting.
...I don't know whether the physics of buildings falling can work like that, but... future building and future explosive. That part kind of has to be taken on faith.
I think I'm good. My friends say I'm good but who knows? I just write it. Edit it. Edit it. Edit it. And Edit it. Until it feels right. Whenever I read action I grip the book harder, I read faster, my heart races, I tend to hold my breath. I try to edit with that goal in mind.
I've been told mine are effective. There are two components at minimum: the "choreography", and the reactions of the POV characters. The latter is probably more difficult, since during action you have even less leeway than usual for "telling", or you risk the immediacy you should be going for. A character's important reactions will show mainly in their physical reactions; what they say and how; in what they pay attention; etc. If you have to SAY a character is startled or fearful or hopeful or confident, the action stalls.
I'm not great, but I've improved by a) reading awesome action scenes in books and b) watching action scenes on TV shows like Buffy and Supernatural and The X Files, and using what I see there to figure out how an action seen looks and feels.
Wow this actually has excellent timing as I have been working on an experiment involving a war scene without hack and slash.
What I've been doing is just getting a pen and writing down any feelings that one might feel before, durring, and after a battle. It just gets your ideas on paper and then you can pull from it when you're writing the real thing.
I'd like to say I handle it okay—I'm always surprised by how relatively short the actual action turns out (not just in my own stuff, but in whatever I'm reading, too). Most of it ends up being emotions or dialogue or running like mad.
I learned good fighting from video games and sparring, back when I did that.
My problem with video games is that there's not a lot of variation in video games--when I play video games, it's always attack attack attack without much cool stuff I mean, like it's fun, but there's not that much variation. That's my take, anyway, feel free to disagree
Which games have you been playing?! There are all kinds of inventive ways to kill people in the games I play. (Except for the part where I use about the same three moves all the time. Soul Calibur makes it look good, though.)
Haha, it really depends. The first one in a series is always a bit less creative, and in general it's the arcade-style ones that really have a range of moves. (On the PS2, Kingdom Hearts wasn't like super creative, but the moves were aweeeesome.)