Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, May 2, 2011

First, This Happened. And Then This Happened...

Writing Song of the Day: "Action" by Blink 182

We hope everyone had a good weekend. How was our weekend? Quick, tiring, and eventful. We exercised two out of the three days, met the lovely and AH-MAY-ZING Abby Stevens for lunch on the one day we didn't exercise, and worked on revising/editing.


Was there something lacking in that description of our weekend? Details, sensory elements? Well, that's because we kinda suck at writing action.

Yeah, it's hard for us to believe that we suck at anything as well (;P), but alas...we do. We discovered this when we traveled into the world of paranormals for our NaNo novels. We've discussed those WIPs before, mine is about jinns (genies) and Pam's is about fairies. We realized that we can't have a paranormal that's worth anything without at least one action scene. And we found that writing action is a lot harder than it seems.

When our scenes should make the reader feel like this (I Am Number Four RAWKS!):

They often come out like this (if you have not seen My Soul To Take--then don't.) :

So, what can we do to help us write some kickass action sequences? We turn to some writing resources around the Interwebs to answer this question.

The most helpful site is Kidlit.com. This website suggests a couple of ways to write a good action sequence here. To summarize, mainly write out the action sequence and then go back and revise it using the following checklist:

* Make sure your words are clear and precise (that they cannot be perceived in any other matter then what you meant to show).

* Be consistent with the way your characters act and speak-- even if action is occurring, the characters should still behave in the same manner.

* Have varied sentences to ensure that the reader isn't reading a bunch of sentences that start with: he/she ______ (insert past or present tense verb here) the ______ (insert noun here).

* Have brief action sequences even if the story calls for a lot of action. Put other scenes in between the quick action sequences.

* Make sure your scenes are believable. Do not have tied up abrupt endings and/or neat deus ex machinas.

We will definitely use this checklist when we start to revise the NaNo novels this summer as well as some of the links below:

Tell us, do you have any tricks for action sequences? Do you struggle with action too, or do you have another Achilles' heel (as Kidlit.com puts it) when it comes to writing?


Holly Dodson said...

I like writing action scenes, and I think I'm pretty good at them. Especially fight scenes. I trained in martial arts for yeeears, so I think that really helps my imagining what I'm writing.

However, I suck at romantic tension. lol I'm working on that though.

Abby Stevens said...

I don't feel like I am particularly good at action scenes, but the ones in MAGGIE have gotten a lot of compliments. I think my weakness is ending the book! I'm still struggling with that so much. Also, knowing what to make internal and what to make external for the POV character.

And it was SO awesome getting together with you two! Nice having bloggy friends who live so close!

Racquel Henry said...

Thanks for posting this! I have the most trouble with varying sentences. I noticed this during the last module workshops. Very helpful post! :)

Tracey Neithercott said...

I find that my action scenes pretty much suck in the first draft when I'm just trying to figure how it all works. When I go back and revise I'm better able to add important details, cut confusing parts, and trim. During that first draft I'm almost blind to that stuff.

Alicia Gregoire said...

I think I suck at action scenes, but I've been told otherwise. *shrugs* When I do write them, I usually do a bare bones step-by-step thing first and then make it fancy.

Jamie Manning said...

Excellent advice ladies, I'm bookmarking this post for future reference!