A Guide To Action Scenes

Hello to all who plan to read this! I am often told by people that I have great action scenes. I believe this came from me always reading and watching movies about medieval duels, wizard battles, and full-scale war of magic, swords and arrows.

The first thing I will tell you is that no author is perfect. I may be excellent at writing battle scenes, but I often have clichéd dialogue and simple description. Perhaps writing action isn't your thing, but you can describe the strangest alien perfectly. Or perhaps you are like me, lost and lonely without a little battle every chapter. Either way, you may join this quest to bring yourself up a notch or even an entire floor for writing battle scenes. However, if you still cannot seem to write a decent description of battles, then a good idea is to write stories with another author who is the opposite of you.

Next, I am going to tell you that I am not a talented writer for modern battles. I specialize in medieval and magic, so if your story just hungers for modern war, I humbly inform you that you will only find basic information about battles.

Now, we shall finally depart from introduction and enter the world of action scenes.

Killing is Not Necessary

Many authors are convinced that to describe battle, they simply must have killing, blood, and gore spurting out. They are inconceivably mistaken. Most of the battle scenes I have written (see bottom of page for names of my action stories) have little or no killing. In movies such as Batman, he rarely kills the robber, murderer, or whatever. He roughs them up a little, and then places them where the police will find the villain.

The same principle is present in both Spiderman and Superman. If you despise killing in any form or way, then simply have the hero clock the villain on the side of the head. I'm sure the villain would rather have a nap than a knife in the gut.

All fiction Calls for Action

The following statement is my opinion: "If you do not have action, then you do not have a story." This is not necessarily true, but it is for many stories. If you were reading, would you appreciate that the author only described. This is fine for descriptive poetry, but fiction demands more. Action is also not only restrained to violence; arguments, interrogation, and anything else that makes your character shiver or sweat are action.

Time Action Properly

So you're watching a movie on the sci-fi channel, and the main character is on a quest to retrieve the Stolen Ruby of Mars. He reaches a hand out and grasps the ruby, glances around like he owns the place (he doesn't), and strolls out the front door. You slump in disappointment. Know why? No action.

If your character is questing for something, anything, make him fight strong and hard for it, especially at the climax. Similarly you should not have action that is easily predictable. If every time your character goes to a bar he has a fight, the story will get repetitive and boring.

Also, be sure to have action at the beginning. If your story has three chapters of pure description at the intro, your reader will get bored and leave. That is why I love good action. I can never leave a story during action. It calls to me, draws me to it mercilessly, insisting I read it. After a description of the snow dropping outside like meteors, have a scream rise from the basement. This keeps your reader going.

Over and Under Describing: The Nightmare of an Action Writer

You're reading a book assigned for English. The following "action" scene lays before your indifferent stare.

I drew my sword. Leaping at Haes, I swing it at his head. It nearly collides, but Haes blocks it. I back up, narrowly avoiding a blow.

That was painful for me to write. It was underdescribed, a wicked factor of writing. When you read that pathetic passage, you don't see the battle in your mind without real effort. It leaves questions unanswered, an annoying nuisance. Usually that is good, but I prefer a better description. Now, the next passage is also flawed.

I reached down towards the sword at my waste. My tendons lengthening, muscles crackling and pulling with life-energy that sustains all living creatures. The moment slowed, giving total attention to me and my ever-extending hand.

That wasn't bad at all, you say. Well, try reading that kind of description for over three pages. The story is slowed and hindered by this, which is as bad as underdescription. I have a name for this. It is overdescription. The optimum form for the last two imitations of a scene is as follows.

I drew the iron sword from my black scabbard, drawing a laugh from Haes. He plucked two daggers from his belt as a single sweat droplet falls horribly slow from my brow. Before the drop hits the ground, I spring on Haes, blade darting at his pointed ear. He swung a knife up, successfully blocking the fatal blow. A slash from his other dagger sends me dancing out of-reach.

That felt so good. It may be longer than the second one, but it moved the story forward. It was also a better read. Now, try that for yourself.

God-Like Heroes: A Clichéd Mistake

How many times have you read a popular published story that had a hero that never loses an argument or fight, always gets the girl (or guy), and seems to be able to best superman in weightlifting? Not often, I can tell you that. If you have a hero without flaws, without errors and has the above traits, then this is bad. If you had a character like this, no one could relate except God, and therefore no one but God will read this. And unfortunately, not everyone is God, so you can't expect reviewers.

On a similar topic, do not make pathetic characters that never defeat the rival/ villain/ thing. That also makes them unreadable.

Setting: An Ignored Part

I have met a few people who say setting is not important in battle, which only action is. In fact, I also used to express this through my writing, especially in Everlasting Battle. I was wrong. They are wrong. If you do not have setting, then you cannot have a decent battle. For if you are fighting on the moon, wouldn't you take advantage to jumping above the opponent easily? In the jungle with the dangerous creatures you could trick your opponent into? Confusion in a dusty, windswept desert? Exactly. Battles often depend on the circumstances of the match and the knowledge of the terrain on both sides.

On another note, make sure to have advantages believable. For example, if the hero is fighting a desert elf in a desert, don't have the elf get lost and confused. Have the hero get lost and confused. It's okay. He can take one loss.


Now, the sun is high, and the hero in the book you are reading is facing off with Dusty Cobra, fastest shot in the West. They reach for their guns… and the hero swings his hand up, firing in the same motion to get Dusty through the gut.

Interesting? Yes, very. Fairly good description, a cool name for the villain, and a little bit of glory. Except there is one problem. You are at page ninety-three, and your character has done the same thing six times. What you are looking at is a perfect example of invariety (not a real word; meaning anti variety).

If your character repeatedly says the same punch-line, defeats the foe the same way, or battles in the same settings every match then you have a problem. Basically, you are unable to change the battle, only switching names and meanness. Be daring while writing battle scenes! Change weapons, have them battle in a forest instead of mountains, say a different line, whatever! Just give it a little spark of newness each time to enable your work to shine.

Well, now that you may understand the basics of battle scenes, go find someone that isn't a young teenager to get better advice. If you have any questions, email me at (also at the profile page). Under are my stories with action in them. They are the action-packed ones. See ya!

Blade of Baikon (I NEED reviews here)

Heatless Flame