Action scenes — good, exciting ones — are tough to write well. It’s not just a matter of writing short sentences and having two characters throw punches at each other. Heck, not all action scenes have fights. That’s be pretty boring in an action novel to just have all fights!
There are three key elements to an exciting action scene:
Reaction. The reaction is probably one of the most important components — and also the one that often gets left out. There’s nothing more disappointing than reading a story where the characters trade blows, and no one reacts. The victim doesn’t stagger back, momentarily stunned while the opponent moves in for a killing blow. The reaction heightens the next elements:
Danger. This one probably sounds obvious, but the scene has to make the reader feel like the character is in danger. The character can be outnumbered or just facing a much better opponent. In The Green Rider, Kerigan faces a master swordsman, and she knows she isn’t skilled enough to defeat him. That’s danger!
Risk. But the above aren’t enough with the risk. What are the stakes if the character doesn’t survive the action scene or gets captured? In Clive Cussler’s Sahara, the stakes of the action are that the world may end if the characters die.
When combined together, these three elements make for riveting action scenes!
What’s your favorite kind of action scene?
Please check out my other action titles, including:
Earthquakes are action scenes, too!