Writing Action Scenes

This week our topic is Action. As in action scenes and how to write them.

Writing actions scenes is something I feel wholly unqualified to write about. But it’s something I know I need to learn to do. And soon.

So, I’m going to cheat on this post and present you with a number of articles by other writers who do (or at least appear to) know how to write action scenes. Some of these writers are reputable. Some of them I’ve never heard of. As with any writing advice, I highly recommend you choose what works for you and toss the rest.

If you’re a seasoned pro when it comes to writing action scenes and want to share your wisdom with the PLC readers, please do so in the comments section.

1. The Kill Zone: How to write action scenes by James Scott Bell

I’m posting this article first because it’s written by Bell, someone whose writing books I’ve read and whose advice I trust. In this article, he defines fiction as “enhanced reality”and explains what that means in terms of writing action scenes. The comments on the article are also worth reading.

2. How to Write Fight Scenes with Alan Baxter (at The Creative Penn)

Joanna Penn is another author whose writing advice I’ve found helpful over the years. While this interview/article is focused on physical fight scenes, I thought it had some good things to consider, especially when it comes to dialogue and gender differences.

3. Thriller: Writing the action scene by Linda Adams

In this concise article, Adams addresses how to prep and plan for an action scene, as well as what things to consider and keep in mind as you write your action scene. Good stuff.

4. 10 Tips for Writing Good Action Scenes by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Hooray! A list of things to do to write action scenes! This articles, like Linda Adams’, is concise and to-the-point. Here are the things you need to consider when writing an action scene. I like that Schmidt included the element of humor as a tool that works well with tension in fiction. It brought to mind the works of Kevin Hearne. He spoke at Phoenix Comicon about writing humor, and talked about how, being a non-violent kind of guy, he found it difficult to write fight scenes. One vehicle he uses to get to the heart of his actions scenes is humor.

5. Fight Scenes and Battles by Marilyn Byerly

I’m including this article because it takes into consideration specific elements of fantasy action scenes. Battles and swords and dragons and spaceships. She brings some good information to the table as well as unique angles to consider.

I hope you find the advice and suggestions in these articles helpful when it comes to writing your own action scenes. And I hope you’ll add your own resources to the comments. Thank you!