Interview with RaeAnn_Reid, Winner of the July Challenge: LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!04:24
What we wanted was hard-hitting action, and boy did you deliver!
Despite the huge array of excellent entries, writing an action-scene is a hard task for any writer. It's been suggested by various authors, editors and agents, that readers tend to 'skip over' action scenes in preference for getting back to the actual story in hand.
1. Pace Is More Important Than Content
Too slow and you'll bore your reader, but too fast and you'll do the same. If you languish over the minute details of your fights, the reading experience will become too bogged down in description and the fight will loose its focus. Yet, if you skip over the important elements, swinging swiftly from one blow to the next without so much as a comma for pause, the reader won't believe in the moment. They'll likely skim the passage; knowing that its happened, but not really caring how it unfolded.
Try to reach a middle ground between detail and punches. A good way to achieve this is to reveal important elements of your character, or the story, within the fights. This will keep the reader interested on the action, rather than the outcome. If you have a lot of fights in your story, you can use hooks from previous clashes to help maintain interest in subsequent ones. For example, you could use an injury sustained in a previous fight to slow your MC down later on.
One of the main reasons for a reader loosing interest in a fight, is due to repetition. If your protagonist is constantly poking people in the eye, taking a smack to the head, or 'falling to the ground like a stone', it's pretty darn tedious for the reader. You can utilize tools like 'Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers' (free on Google Books), or you could even take a back seat and let the reader fill in the gaps for themselves. There are so many routes to take, so don't be lazy, and definitely don't recycle!
3. Keep it short. Get to the point.
It's pretty tiring getting hit in the face or dangling someone over a ledge by their ponytail, so don't forget that your characters need to have believable limits (yes, even in fantasy narratives!). Don't dawdle over the details, readers are pretty good at filling in the blanks.
No attacker is going to be philosophizing over a blood-orange sunset in the heat of battle, and no victim is going to notice the elegant swish of a murderer's cloak while their life is in peril.
4. Commas, distract. Too much description does the same.
Keep your sentences short. Because, the thing is, once you start dwelling, it gets, well, pretty boring.
Think about the difference in intensity between a subject-verb-object sentence construction, and a dependent clause construct:
Subject-Verb-Object: 'Alex was felled by a blow to the head.' Dependent Clause: 'Felled by a blow to the head, Alex's fight was over.'
'Alex cocked his gleaming rifle as the age-old inscription on the warm barrel caught the dying evening sun, he thought of the powerful dark bullets trembling within and a sudden resolve steadied his shaking hand; he was ready for the final, powerful blow.'
So, let's stylize it to prepare for action:
'Alex cocked his gleaming rifle. The thought of the powerful bullets within helped steady his trembling hand. He was ready for the final blow.'
You notice the difference in intensity between the two sentences immediately. A good editorial exercise for writers to employ when they're developing action scenes is to write in an unconstrained way, and then go back and apply these rules.
But, as ever, there can only be one winner...
Without further ado, here's our interview with June's WEbook Challenge Winner, RaeAnn_Reid:
Although there is no definition of the MC's sex in the story, one automatically assumes that they are female. Firstly, are we right? And secondly, if we are, how did you approach writing a strong, female lead for your story?
The amount of differing perspectives and writing styles of other authors helped me to develop my own style. I could pick something I really liked from one and put it together with another author’s flair, thus creating something unique.
WB: The confession of your MC in the story - that they did it, rather than the sister - culminates in the powerful final line, '"She didn't do it... I-I did." But it no longer mattered.' This line injects a sense of hopelessness into the story, which ultimately ties the piece together.
When you were writing this scene, where did this line come in during the drafting process? Was it as important as it has become, or was it a happy final accident?
- The WEbook Team