• West Cork Literary Festival 8-15 July 2022

Writing Action Scenes: Really Useful Links by Paul Anthony Shortt

Writing.ie | Resources | Links for Writers | The Art of Description
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Paul Anthony Shortt

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I love action scenes. They’re some of my favourite things to write, so much so that many of my best book ideas come from the spark of a new climactic action scene in my mind. But they’re not always easy to get right. You can’t finish the scene too quickly; the reader will feel cheated. You can’t drag it out too long; the reader will get impatient. You can’t be too vague; the reader will get confused. You can’t have too much detail; the reader will get bored. And that’s before you get into the nitty gritty of ensuring you describe things accurately while still maintaining a sense of tension and excitement, or consider how graphic you want the violence in your book to be.

I mentioned fight scenes in a previous article on research, but this week I wanted to get into the gritty details of what makes a great fight scene. To help you along, here are some tips from the experts on how to make sure your fight scenes are the best they can be.

1: How To Fight Write – This is a repeat from the previous article on research, but its usefulness cannot be overstated. It has regular updates and you can ask them anything you like, in as broad or as specific detail as needed. This site should really be on the top of any author’s bookmarks folder if they plan to have any action scenes at all.

2: Five Essential Tips – Writers Digest presents these top tips, essential to consider every time you think you might want to include a fight scene. From advancing the plot to leaving just enough room for the reader to add their own imaginative spin, this article is a great guide.

3: 25 Blood-Splattering Tips – Author Delilah S Dawson guest-posts on Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog to share her wisdom. She’s a prolific author, with 12 traditionally-published novels at last count. She knows her stuff when it comes to writing violence, and she offers to-the-point advice.

4: 50 Ways to Murder a Character – Death and injury are full of variety in real life, and the same should be the case in fiction. Don’t get bogged down with the same, tired, methods. Eventually your reader will grow tired of gunfights or people being run through with a sword. Consult this list for new and exciting ways to keep your characters’ mortality at stake.

5: Nerve Strikes – Not every character can be a ninja or special forces soldier. Most people who find themselves in a fight have to try and survive with the most straightforward, dirty moves they can manage. This article looks at such techniques to explain how where a character gets hit can be just as important as how.

6: How to Write Fight Scenes – Joanna Penn talks to author Alan Baxter about his opinions on getting the most from your fight scenes.

And finally, some reference articles for brushing up on your fighting styles and weapons, straight from Wikipedia:

7: List of Martial Art

8: Lists of Weapons

9: Lists of Military Tactics

Now get out there and have your characters kick some butt. Or take a beating, whichever works best.

(c) Paul Anthony Shortt

About the author

Paul Anthony Shortt believes in magic and monsters; in ghosts and fairies, the creatures that lurk under the bed and inside the closet. The things that live in the dark, and the heroes who stand against them. Above all, he believes that stories have the power to change the world, and the most important stories are the ones which show that monsters can be beaten.
Paul’s work includes the Memory Wars Trilogy and the Lady Raven Series. His short fiction has appeared in the Amazon #1 bestselling anthology, Sojourn Volume 2.

Website: http://www.paulanthonyshortt.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pashortt

Twitter: @PAShortt
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