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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Giovanni

Writing Action Scenes

This week's #WritingWednesday post is all about writing action scenes. Specifically, we're going to talk about writing action scenes that have to do with fighting; however, these tips can be used to write any emotional scene that involves action.

1. Research.

Research. Research, oh, and research some more. There are a lot of different fighting techniques out there, and you'll want to not only understand the physical mechanics of the style, but the mental and cultural implications associated with it. From studying different fighting styles, for several different novels, I've learned that there is often a certain mindset that goes along with the style. In addition, there are also cultural implications that may go into the style. For example, in my Chaos Theory Series (Fall, 2018), the fighting 'style' is heavily influenced by the culture of where the style was developed. There is a whole range of mental and emotional components to the technique, that make it border on more of a lifestyle, or even a religion than a fighting technique. This may not be something that you integrate into your story, but it's always good to understand.

I suggest that you watch videos of people performing the fighting style. This will help you to accurately be able to paint a picture for your readers. For Chaos Theory, which is based on the ancient traditions of Ninjitsu, I had three books I read over and over. Two went into the mental and belief system associated with the craft, while the last one had visual depictions of each fight move, traditional weapons and how they would be combined in a fight.

I suggest the show Fight Quest as a starting point. It follows two MMA fighters as they go to the countries where fight styles were developed and discover their origins. It's great because it covers the cultural implications that I discussed above. It's truly fascinating, and is one of the reasons I ended up writing several stories that are heavy in action scenes.

2. Use Your Senses!

The five senses are imperative to adding depth and texture to your fight scenes. This helps to balance show and tell as well. Many fight scenes end up being far too much tell, and by applying the senses, you can created a better rounded piece.

1. Sight - This is one of the more obvious senses. What is your character seeing around them, and, more importantly, how is their body reacting. For example, under pressure does your character's vision go blurry, crisp or even become tunnel vision. Perhaps, they have vignette that creates hyper focus.

2. Sound - I love this element, because it can add such a high level of texture and grit to your writing. Not only are you providing insight into what's going on, you can also show how a character reacts. For example, they might just hear buzzing, or perhaps, the sense is enhanced and there is the sound of metal click (gun), the thwack of an arrow leaving a bow, the sickening thud of skin against skin or the crack of a bone.

3. Smell - Certain senses are often enhanced in high-periods of stress, so you need to think of how the layer of them works with who your character is. For smell, they could be on a dock or maybe there is smoke in the air. Are they hiding in a closet that's musty?

4. Taste - You may be thinking, how does this apply here? I promise, it can add so much. Think about it -- the metallic taste of blood in the mouth after being punched, or maybe the salty taste of sweat, or even tears?

5. Touch - The best should always be saved for last. I love using this in my fight sequences. The weight of a weapon in the hand, the coolness of a gun's metal, the warmth of wood (bow), or even the feel of the surroundings -- gravel under shoes, mist on the skin.

How do you add depth to your action scenes?

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