Action Scenes

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?

  • Choreography

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.

  • Tempo

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.


Write Wisely:

Word choice


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)


About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, will be published November 2018 by Immortal Works Press. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
This entry was posted in Presentation Notes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s