Your Chlonette one-shot was amazing! How do manage to write action so well? I want to diversify the topics of the things I write, and action is one of the major topics I'm struggling with.
thank you!!! it was super fun to write, i’m a sucker for spy/assassin au’s! and let’s see, advice on writing action….
1) don’t go into explicit detail about the entire fight.
you’re not a hollywood stunt choreographer. it’s not necessary to tell us every single thing that happens in a fight. i’ve read fanfictions where fight scenes go on for literally thousands of words and you run the risk of boring your reader when things drag out that long. make sure you’re setting the scene. give us a description of where the fight is. give us smells, give us sights. describe weapons and bodies and how they move/throw punches. set that up early on so we have an idea of how this scene looks.
and after that? pull back a little. let the reader fill in the blanks about how the fight is going down blow-by-blow. use that time to give a sense of the character’s emotions. what the character is thinking. maybe they’re strategizing in their head. maybe they’re worrying about another character. use your imagination and make it interesting!
2) shake it up!
make all of your scenes different! if you’re writing about a warrior who always fights with a sword, maybe have her lose her sword for one fight scene and make her fight hand to hand. hell, maybe have her struggle with hand to hand and give us a fight scene where she actually struggles. heck, make your characters have to fight in a dark room where they can’t see. how does their fighting style change? how does that affect their skill and their awareness? if you make every fight sound/look the same, it gets boring after a while so don’t be afraid to get creative!
3) use your fight scenes to tell the reader something
your fights should always serve a narrative purpose. throwing in needless, random fights work when you’re michael bay, not so much when you’re a fiction writer. if you’re putting in a fight scene, make it so that your characters get something important during that fight that’ll advance the plot. make them learn something about themselves (a new power! a new skill!) during that fight. make them grapple with a weakness or insecurity that they have that’ll advance their character development or be brought back as a plot device later. the only times where you should really zoom in up close on fight scenes is when they’re doing something important. because then when your reader sees you getting into a fight scene, they’ll think “oooo, something important is gonna happen!”
this is also a really great time to get into emotions and motivations in your fight! again, blow-by-blow action scenes get old very quick. does your character feel angry? humiliated? hurt? traumatized? what are the stakes? why is this fight important? why is this character fighting harder? why are they hesitating? fights are emotional and dramatic! add some texture in there to make the scenes come to life.
4) use your language to add perspective to your scenes
sometimes when you’re in a hand-to-hand fight with someone, it’s good to really zoom in. a character might feel another character’s breath on their face. might smell their sweat and blood. might be feeling hot and claustrophobic. sometimes (like in war scenes for example) it might be good to pan out and step away and give a snapshot of bodies, of screaming, of gunshots, or swords clashing, etc and not necessarily go into in depth detail about every single mini-fight going on in that mix. think to yourself “do i want them to focus on this one fight, or do i want them to focus on this battle as a whole” and try to emulate that.
another cool thing to do is play around with sentence structure. so if you want a fight scene to go really quickly, use short/choppy sentences to make it seem fast and punchy. if you want a fight scene to seem sluggish and like it’s going on forever, use longer, run-on sentences to show fatigue or exhaustion. just a cool device to make your scenes more engaging!