Ali Cross gave a fabulous lesson on how to craft a great fight scene and up its POW factor.
Pack a Punch:
- Be grounded
Stand up and make the movement you are writing about and notice how your body feels doing it.
- Be Realistic
Consider the abilities of your character—don’t make them a martial arts expert unless they’ve been studying for years and years.
Consider the negative and positive effects of adrenaline.
- Be Imaginative
Be aware of the environment. How does it help or hinder the action?
Order in Action:
Know the purpose of the scene—is it plot driven or character driven?
If plot driven, show a few action-based, blow-by-blow details.
If character driven, give personal, internal thought.
The POV will also determine how much detail is given.
Vary the speed.
Use one-word paragraphs interspersed with longer segments.
Consider your reader.
If a longer scene has a down time, add a moment of introspection.
Expand your vocabulary.
If a car chase, use the right vocabulary—RPM, drift, grinding/shifting gears, burning rubber—this is not the time to explain what these items are.
-Use strong active verbs
Shane stood at the edge of the water, the gun in his hand. (first draft)
Shane ________at the water’s edge, the gun _____ in his hand.
Pick verbs to show action. Then pick verbs that change the tone.
Shane crouched at the water’s edge, the gun smoked in his hand.
Shane teetered at the water’s edge, the gun dangled in his hand.
These details can be fixed in the revisions. Get through the first draft then later punch up the action.
Nothing passive in action scenes—the subject is doing the action.
Mike was swarmed by demons. (Passive)
The demons swarmed over Mike. (Subject is active)