I recently read an interesting article about Crafting Killer Action Scenes. Written by Francesca Pelaccia, the article is wonderful but long, with lots of examples to illustrate the author’s points. I might repost the article later, but in the meantime, I’ve decided to offer a summary of some of Ms. Pelaccia’s key points, along with a bit of my own advice on the subject of crafting quality action scenes :
(1) In her article, Ms. Pelaccia discusses the importance of avoiding extraneous descriptions during action scenes. My advice on this point is to set the scene beforehand, thus avoiding the need for description once the action is underway. As my old writing instructor use to tell me, “Nothing happens nowhere.” In other words, you must first tell the reader where your character(s) are before they start performing actions. To do otherwise is to leave the reader utterly confused as to where the action is taking place. Plus, describing the scene upfront is tremendously helpful later on because it allows you to focus on what’s happening rather than the surroundings when things get moving.
(2) Avoid internalizations during action. Another excellent piece of advice. I was taught to visualize a movie or television camera — when it comes to action, try to stick to what the camera would see (or hear). Focus on the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, etc.). Once again, clearing the decks ahead of time of any extraneous items such as dialogue or internalizations paves the way for smooth, faster-paced action.
(3) The other tips about using short sentences and short paragraphs are pretty straight-forward. Rather than elaborate on these topics, I will refer you once again to Ms. Pelaccia’s excellent post Crafting Killer Action Scenes| BookDaily #AuthorTips.