(Very) General Tips for Writing Action Out of Your Comfort Zone
Anonymous asked you: Do you have any tips on writing action? (Like describing a sex scene or a fight scene?) I mostly write thoughts and dialogue, and I’ve recently realized that when I have to write my characters moving and doing things I’m way out of my comfort zone and I don’t do very well at it.
As far as adding actions into a scene goes, I have a few quick tips:
- Be sure to show and not tell! That is, of course, unless the situation calls for some “telling”.
- Vary your sentence structure. No one wants to read, “He went to the door. He opened it. He looked outside.” Unless this is a deliberate style choice—in which case this style of writing could make your scene feel like anything between surreal and mundane—the repetition of the word choice and sentence structure will slow your scene to a dead crawl.
Instead, try switching things up: “He went to the door, opened it, and looked outside.” Or even, “He went to the door, opening it and looking outside.”
- Describe the full sensory experience. Try to avoid cliched description like, “His skin was like ice.” Instead, go for weird description and see how it works. Look for ways to connect your characters with things they experience or have experienced in their world. “His skin was cold to the touch like our front door’s brass doorknob in the dead of winter. I was afraid my hands would stick, afraid they would come away black and frostbitten.” Describe viscerally, jarringly even, and get your readers’ attention. Don’t be afraid to go for the strange metaphor. If you decide you don’t like it, you can always change it later!
- Expand your comfort zone. If you’re not sure how to go about broadening your horizons, so to speak, then check out the link for some tips to help you out!
- Work on your pacing and style-crafting. Make sure that, after you tackle a topic that is difficult for you, you go back and check your pacing. Of all the aspects of writing, pacing and style choices are often the most affected by changes in comfort level.
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