Write Gripping Actions Scenes | Barbara Vance | Skillshare

Write Gripping Actions Scenes

Barbara Vance, Author, Illustrator

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17 Lessons (1h 42m) View My Notes
    • 1. Introduction

      7:17
    • 2. Getting Started

      8:21
    • 3. Defining an Action Scene

      7:08
    • 4. Keeping it Plot Focused

      8:48
    • 5. Context Heightens Suspense

      10:57
    • 6. Character Development

      6:25
    • 7. Determine the Odds

      5:40
    • 8. What Can Go Wrong ?

      9:20
    • 9. Setting the Scene

      6:16
    • 10. Realistic Sensory Details

      2:21
    • 11. Assignment Part One

      1:03
    • 12. Pacing and Wording

      11:51
    • 13. Simplicity for Speed

      1:34
    • 14. Dialogue that moves

      1:56
    • 15. Point of View

      5:16
    • 16. Style Comparisons

      5:32
    • 17. Class Project Part Two

      2:19

About This Class

This course is designed to help you write gripping, fast-paced action scenes that advance plot and character development while honoring your unique writing style.

Action scene scan be difficult to write because they are so emotionally charged that there is a lot of expectation behind them. It is easy to focus so much on the action that we neglect the characters, or so much of the characters that the scene feels slow. It is a delicate balance! This course is designed to help you with that.

We will address:

  • The various kinds of action scenes
  • Elements of great action scenes
  • How to make your action scene plot-focused
  • How to heighten reader’s anticipation and appreciation of challenges your characters face
  • Specific action-scene character development questions
  • Situating your characters in action scenes
  • Putting up strategic roadblocks for your characters that heighten realism and suspense and that make us root for them more
  • How to write strong settings that let you make the most of the action
  • How to use pacing and wording to make your scene feel fast and that stress the most important information in the scene
  • How to maximize dialogue and point of view

There are numerous downloads to help you writing action scenes:

  • Class Notes to follow along with the class (download and follow along- you will get more out of the class!)
  • Action Scene Worksheet to brainstorm your scene
  • Action Scene Checklist to audit your scene once you have written it
  • Strong Verbs Handout to help you write
  • Verbs to Avoid Handout
  • Recommended Reading

The class includes a three-step project designed to help you brainstorm, write, and then review your own action scene. 

I hope you enjoy!

Barbara

Transcripts

1. Introduction : Hi, everyone. And welcome to this course on writing a great action scene for your novel or your short story. My name is more events. I have had the great fortune of being an educator of creative writing and creative communications for many years, and I am so excited to be talking about this topic today. It's no secret when you look at the list of best seller books on any of the books selling website for The New York Times. How often you see stories that are very action oriented, thes can be thrillers, suspense. They can be military base that could be found to see. But in many cases they are stories that really do have a lot of high action scenes, which we will get into the definition of what that is. And so I have a lot of people I work with. You really want to write this kind of a book and indeed kind of come up with their own Siri's the way you might think of a Jack Reacher series or something like that. So it's very much a skill that is worth having and being able to do. But it's interesting because actually riding an action scene is harder than people realize , and a lot of times I will work with people who think that that's going to be the easy scene , because it's just it's action. We just Here you go. But they say Actually, no, it's really difficult because it can very easily and that being something where you are removed from the character were actually bored by it. Or in fact, the scene feels slow when it should feel fast. There's so much expectation on an action scene because it's a high emotion seen in your story, and when you're crafting a narrative, obviously every scene matters. But when we all writing an out if way are actually thinking in terms of the emotions of our readers, and so when we hit high emotion scenes, these can be love scenes. These can be tragic scenes I did, or they can be scenes like action scenes in which we are ramping up a specific emotion and trying to really engender that emotion into a reader. Those in tech high expectations and it's very easy actually to not meet them, and this course is designed to help you overcome some of the hurdles that often arise when you are trying to write an action scene, we're going to be focusing on helping you write scenes that our fast paced and feel immediate, but remained connected to the character and continue to push the plot forward. Those four things are so important going to say them again its course. We're focused on making things that feel fast paced. They feel immediate, they keep you connected to the character and they push the plot forward. Your action scenes should do all of these things. To that end, we're going to be looking at numerous components of an action scene that you will want to make sure you are thinking about when you are writing yours. This includes making sure you're seen as an actual relevant story event, that it isn't something tacked on, but that it is deeply invented into the story itself and that it does actually push that plot forward making an absolutely essential to your story. We will look at how to provide context in your seen both so that we appreciate the action that's happening, which is going to heighten suspense but also so that we appreciate that scene in the grander scale of the novel as a whole. We will consider the characters in those scenes. And how do we make the scene as interesting as we can by not only making sure that the readers connect with the characters that we utilize two greatest advantage. The characters, strengths and weaknesses so that that scene has the most emotional impact. We want to consider questions like what the odds who has got the upper hand here? We want to consider who were rooting for and why we're rooting for that person. It's also critical that you think about what could possibly go wrong, because, as we're going to talk about, it's tremendously boring if everything just happens the way the protagonist our main character, wants it to. It's far more interesting when things don't go right. It's not great for the character, but it's super for us, is readers. We're also going to take some time to look at setting because setting actually has a tremendous impact on action scenes. So we want to address that as well to make sure that, like characters, you're utilizing this to the best you can. When it comes to actually then putting pen to paper or finger tips to keyboard keys. We want to make sure that we're looking at things like pacing and sentence ling. And what goes into a cent looking at your verbs, looking at your sentence structures, all of that linguistic structural happening that goes on when you right, we want to make sure that we're utilizing that to the best that we can to make sure that your scenes feel that fast paced immediacy as well. We will look a dialogue. We will look at point of view. We're also going to look at information management and simplicity because if you've ever tried to write an action scene before, you might know that it's very easy to get a little overwhelmed with wanting to address. Perhaps too much of what ends up happening is sort of action scene bloat, and there's just too much information, too much emotion. So you've slowed your whole scene down, so we want to look at how do we strip away what's not necessary and then really create a strong a strong, distinct scene that doesn't have any of that unnecessary information. We're also going to take time to look at different comparisons just accepts from things throughout the course, so that you really get a sense of the variety off the kinds of scenes that people can write and their stylistic differences. The goal of this course is for you to then take this information and craft a seen all of your own. And I have to exercises for you that will help you do this in addition to a number of resources that you can download, all of which will help you not only proceeds with the course but go about writing your own action based scenes before we jump to the class itself. I would ask that if you even find yourself remotely interested in this or any of my other courses, do take a moment and go follow me on social media and, most importantly of all, go to my website and sign up for my mailing list. That mailing list is bar none. The best way to keep up with all of the resources and courses did not mean to rhyme there that I will be offering, so I do hope that you will take a moment and sign up for that. Also do make sure to stick around until the end because that's going to give you the best information on these assignments and how you can really maximize the course. I am so excited to talk about this with you. I hope it sounds of interest. If it does stick around and let's get started into talking about what actually is an action scene. 2. Getting Started: before we begin, I would like to take a few moments to talk about how to get the most out of this course and to offer just in general guidelines on how to write action based scenes. All of these things are really quite rather than to any scenes that you right, But I want to say them here for you, so that as we proceed through the rest of the course, you keep these in the back and in the front of your mind, first and foremost and this is key. There is no one way to write an action scene. The things that we will talk about in this course are guidelines. They are not rules. And even then you could take any any one of these guidelines we will talk about and find a number of authors who totally don't do that. And they are wildly successful with their works, and their work is great. No, what we will talk about here really are best practices, and in general these things will help you. But what's going to make the most difference for you is if you sort of take this course in look at the guidelines look at the things we talk about, but then go to the authors whose work you like, go to the people whose work inspires you and then take the things we talk about here and see well, does that apply for my over? Did mild to do that, or did my offer do that over here, but not over here? And what's the effect of that? What's going to make you the strongest writer of of any kind, not just action scenes is learning to analyze for yourself the works that you like and then , by extension, your own work. Now, of course, it's it's much more difficult to toe analyze their own work because we are so close to it that it takes great effort and diligence and practice, in fact, to be able to remove ourselves from our work so that we can come at it from, you know, sort of objective perspective, which can can be difficult. But you have riders who inspire you, and they don't have to be action scene writers. You might want to write a thriller type novel, but you can still enjoy something like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and want to take elements of that on. Bring it into a style. As a writer, As an author, you're not only developing plots, you're finding your own style, and that's a lifelong endeavour. You don't suddenly say, Well, I found my style and now I've done It's a lifelong endeavor now, certainly, if you were writing a Siri's or something like that, you do sort of have a style in many office do. But you want to develop it. And you do that by looking at inspiration, looking at the people whose writing major you want to be a writer and then asking yourself , Why does this work or why doesn't it? Why does this action seem feel slow to me? Why does this one feel past? Why was I so engaged in this scene? You want to get very meta on yourself and be quite observant of yourself. Reading, for example, you read a novel, so you read another for the first time. You're just engaged in it, and that's great to be engaged. But if you read it a second time or what not, or even if you're beating it for the first time, take a moment and notice your emotions. Notice your reactions and notice your thoughts. If you start wondering something about character at a certain point, ask yourself why if you feel tense or at peace, or what have you in certain moments and you feel an impact that's standing out to you, take time to look at what those things are now having gone through this course, you will have for yourself a mental tool kit off things that you can observe about an action scene. And that's why it is important to take some time and think about writing. It can be very helpful to take courses like this, even though they are guidelines, because you know you don't know what you don't know, and you're learning the vocabulary of your craft, so understanding all of the things that you want to look for in a scene will help you. Then go make those analyses for yourself. Set. That's just chief recommendation that I have is watch this course, but then go back to the books that you love once you have and start to find those action scenes for yourself and then take all of this information and see the where it applies and where it doesn't that will be so freeing to you because you'll see some affirmations. But you also see places where the authors you love don't do these things, and that will be good for us. Well, one other thing that is tremendously important. It's sort of piggybacks off of what I was just saying about variety. But the variety is so key, we're going to be talking about things will say specific things, some things that she may have heard of. Like, you know, I've short or punchier sentences or this or that. What you want to remember is that because every writer has variety one of your challenges and one of the things you will want to do is take these guidelines, but work them into the context of your own style. You do not want to feel like, Okay, I've hit my auction scene, So now I have to write like Dan Brown and then suddenly you're start changes and everybody's like Wait, you were riding sort of lyrically over here, and it was sort of going along and there was a bit of a you know, more time spent on thoughts in this than that and then suddenly your whole style changed for an action scene. Don't don't let that happen. You want to take these guidelines and work them into the style that you have. For example, you know, if I'm driving down the road 20 MPH and then I start driving down the road at 40 MPH, you're going to feel like things sped up. You'll feel that. But if you're used to driving down the road, 50 moss per hour 40 MPH will seem slow. Some riders throughout their whole story have a fast paced feel to them. The child's that way. So when he wants to speed things up and he already writes fast, then it's going to be even shorter and even choppier feeling. But if you're somebody who writes more like Charles Dickens than when you get to an action scene for Charles Dickins, it's going Even your Charles Dickens action scene is going to feel a bit slow compared to elite child non action see, and that's OK, because again, it's the context of your story. So just keep in mind as we go through this that it really is all about taking your style and adapting these guidelines to it rather than feeling like you have to totally wipe your style the way and just get yourself into some action writer mold. That's not the goal of this class. And that's not a good modus operandi for you. So don't do that, own your style and then just take thes, take these suggestions and bring them into what you're doing already having said all of that, two of the things that I highly highly recommend that you do to get the most out of this class one. Make sure you do both the class projects because that's going to help you tremendously when you do those. I would love it if you submitted those so that I can look at them so that peers can look at them. It is a way to get feedback. I would love to give feedback, and I am so excited to see what you come up with. The second thing I recommend is that you download all of the resources for this class. There are numerous ones which I will indicate to you as we proceed through. Now we do have some class notes. The class notes are a general outline. They do not get into all of the details that we will talk about. But if you make notes yourself as you go through, this class is going to help you so much. And making notes on the class notes document will help you because that classes start commit just gives you a nice skeleton for the course. It's an easy way to sort of outlined things in your head, so I highly recommend that you download that. Having said all of that, let's jump in and define what actually makes an action scene. 3. Defining an Action Scene: Okay, So before we jump in and start talking about how to actually write an action scene, we need a working definition of what an action scene actually is Now. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word action as the fact or process of doing something typically to achieve on a might seem a little bit dull to start with the definition. But there's a reason that I'm doing this. It's really quite relevant. Let's look back at this definition, the fact or process of doing something typically to achieve on a now, when we think about an action scene, Typically we are thinking about something that has a whole lot of doing happening in it. But don't ignore the second port of that definition. It's chiefly to achieve an A. This is also very true of action scenes. More often than not. When we think about an action scene, we tend to think of things like a fight and escape a rescue, a chase, a shootout, which really is like fighters with firearms and whatnot and things like that. A large battle. It could be a heist scene where people are stealing something or debating security. It could be something like a race, or it could be sports competition of some kind, like a football game or what have you, would you think, like, remember the Titans or something like that? So those are typically things will be so yes, that's an action. That's an action story that's action filled. Those are the things that we're thinking about how ever action scenes can be other things to. There are other things that have a lot of doing happening in them and also have a lot of goals. So an action scene can actually be a love scene. An action scene could be not the battle itself, but people preparing for said Battle. An action scene could be a reporter racing across town to get information to his newspaper in time for it to be printed for that morning's newspaper. So that's high action. That's an action scene. Most stories have some form of an action scene, which means that you don't have to want to be writing Ah thriller or something like that for an actual seem to be trying to stay relevant to you. So what makes these scenes action scenes when we think about an action scene What we're talking about is compressing Ah, lot of doing into what I guess you could call story time, the amount of space on a page, the amount of minutes in a film. So if we just have a certain amount of action or doing to go back to our definition, sort of happening along action scenes go OK, let's hurry up and have a whole lot of doing all at once and let's have them. The stakes be really high and let's have a goal. So action scenes compress that now when we compress action in story time, that creates tension. When you think about music, right, when the notes are farther apart, each notice held longer right. That feels slower to us when we compress the number of notes in our musical time so that now in 10 seconds instead of urine, two notes, I heard 20 notes That's created tension in me as a listener, it says. The notice sped up. I feel that I feel those changes and I have more attention because of that. So action scenes are scenes that that are creating attention in the reader, and you you want to consider always that emotion that's happening when you're in planning these seats. So an action scene is a scene that has a lot of doing. It has a goal. It's compressing story time. That doesn't mean you have to be killing someone or shooting at someone or anything like that. It just has to have those elements. Now we can really boil these elements down to about four main things that we think of action scenes is having its Let's go through these. These Air four primary things really should generally speaking or relevant in an action scene, whether it's a battle or a fight or ah, heist or a chase or a reporter running across town with the story. The first element that's present in most action scenes is narrative urgency. So the reporter raising across town, the high stakes fight, the the highest. Where we're going, you, they're going to make it out that it's a It's a narrative based attention, and that is generally the first thing that we think of when we think of an action scene. The second element is actually a stylistic and textual tension that you create when you're actually doing your writing and we'll get into these things in detail. But the textual element is going to be the the the other. These this structure of your sentences, the words that you use, how long your sentences are, all of that textual aspect so that we're not only plot wise, creating tension, pushing things forward but textually. We're doing this as well. Third element, high stakes action scenes. Generally, there's a lot on the line. Character has a strong motivation. This can often be because of a threat. Someone's life is on the line. It can be because you're vying for certain you like in terms of a sports competition. You want to win the prize. But there's generally not just something on the line, but it's high stakes. There's either something really strong to gain or something really bad to lose or both. And, fourthly, action scenes are competitive. Generally speaking, you are pitting one person or group of people against another. That is what makes it high action. Now. You can also have man versus nature member society type scenes as well. But generally you have two people, each of whom has a high stake goal they're trying to achieve and not go for each of them doesn't match, so it's not like G Person A and Person B can both achieve their high state goals and will be happy. No, someone has to lose. Someone has to be outperformed. Someone has to be killed. Someone has to be maimed that somebody has to lose out. And so it's this other human element that really makes up in action scenes. Now let's review these four things. Action scenes are narratively urgent, their test textually and stylistically fast paced. They have high stakes. They're competitive. So having defined that for ourselves that that encapsulate what we are now going to proceed through and try to achieve through the rest of the course. So that's begin by looking at how we actually go about planning action scenes. 4. Keeping it Plot Focused: The first thing that we want to make sure that we focus on when we are crafting our action scenes is that they are a relevant story event. Remember, your action scene isn't just there, so you could pop some action into your story. If you can take your action scene and lift it out, and it doesn't affect your plot in any way than it is superfluous, and you should not have it there. Every scene needs to be deeply connected to plot, which means that that scene is its own story event. It just happens to be a very action oriented story event, and a story event is a change. When you have an event that means that something changed. If you ask me how your day was, what somebody going to reply, they're going to pick out the The important events are going to pick up the things that stand out to them is being memorable events in their day. This is true of a scene, so a story event says we started in this situation and we moved to this situation. Something has to change in your scene. So the first thing to ask yourself before you start getting into all of the cool action that's going to happen is what is the purpose of this scene and what is the change that is taking place? What is different? They started the scene and at the end of the scene, and you might have numerous differences. Certainly something should be different for the main characters in that scene. Um, so were they feeling defeated? But then they have this battle, and now they're feeling like Have, ah, we're on top of the world. Or were they? Where did they start the scene with no painting? And then they stole a painting from the museum, another ending the museum scene with painting in hand. What changed? But when you think about the story event that can change, remember that that can be external and it can be internal, so you can have an external events such like the death of the character or something important is destroyed or there's an escape or someone is captured. But you can also have internal changes where we obtain information that we didn't have before. So now we've learned something. There's been a revelation of information, and we have learned something or a characters. Emotions are different. You can have external and internal changes you can have both going on. But you want to mark down what these changes are. And it's helpful to do that kind of before you're thinking about your scene, because then you know how to make sure to shape that as you're doing the writing. Now it's important to say everybody writes differently. Some people love to plan everything out there. Planners and some people are what are generally called discovery riders, and these are people who just sort of sit down, look at the blank page of the blank computer screen and go, Let's see what happens. There are both and not necessarily is one better than the other. I do think for some people that I've worked with, I think that it's better for them to do some planning. I think it I know more people who I think need to do planning than not often. I would say most people, it's a combination. You do a certain amount of planning, but you also totally leave room open for yourself to discover things. Discover the characters discovered the events that happened then things about your story and your characters as you are writing, so I understand that you don't have to plan everything out. But knowing what that story event is, then helps you to put all of those neat little cookies into your into your scene as you go . Some questions you can ask that will help you make sure that you are seeing is actually Jermaine to said plots. Are the following ones asking, Okay, does my scene advance the plot and knowing how being able to articulate for yourself how that scene advances the plant will be so important? The next question that you really want to ask yourself is, Why does this scene need to take place here at this point in my story, you could live that scene out like I said and put it somewhere else in the story. Then you haven't justified why you need that. Seen that scene has to not just be relevant to the plot. It has to be relevant to the plot at that point in the story that is key because everything else that happens from it needs to follow. So it's like a little train with all of the cars connected you can't just sort of switch up one of the cars. You have to make the little trains following order down the trucks, birthing to ask, What do my readers learn from this scene? What information did my Regis not have that they now have? Because again, you're changing things for your character, but it can you changing things for your reader. Fourthly, what is a result of this action? Is there a change in the character? Does the reader have a deeper understanding of the character? Is there a change in circumstance in terms of the goal has a gold changed? What? What is the result of it? So the end of the sea, Where are we now? You want to know what that issue want to know what the aftermath of the scene is other things that will be important for you when it comes to plot and seen. Generally speaking, your main character, your protagonist, is in your action scene. Yes, you can have a high action scene where the main character isn't there, but it's remained character, and you really do feel it when you try to have an action scene that he is not a part of. So in general, if you have too many action scenes, then you don't really feel like you're having action scenes because you always keeping the level up so high that it just becomes the norm. So when you have genuine action scenes and these air high emotion scenes, we want our protagonist in them. And so, while you might have 10 battle scenes in your head that you'd like to have, you want to focus in on the plot relevant ones and the ones that include your main character. The other thing that is going to make this so plot relevant is that you want to make sure that you do a good job of making the conflict in that scene, making that matter significantly to all parties involved. So the protagonist in the antagonised, whoever is there don't just make the stakes high for the protagonist make them high for his opponent as well. We don't feel the tension the same way. If we only feel the height of it for our protagonist. If we only feel like our protagonist has something to lose, then we won. We don't get the emotional sense of defense or or whatnot are fighting back of the antagonise. But we also don't We don't have the same sense of suspense and, um, nervous energy, because we don't we feel like one sign doesn't really have anything to lose, just our person does. Both sides need to have something serious to lose or to gain, and you want to do a good job of setting that up for us. Said that we really appreciate all of the tension and emotional impact that's going into that scene, which means making the conflict very personal for both the antagonised and the protagonist action scenes. Contrary to what you might think, they are scenes of increased emotion. They're not scenes of less emotion. You don't don't let someone be like, Well, this is an emotion scene, and that's an action scene. No action scenes are totally high emotion. You think about your adrenaline's pumping. You have something, Hiatt Steak. You have something you could lose thes air, the nail biting moments. So are they moments where you're necessarily sitting there pontificating and talking about all of your feelings? No, but that doesn't mean that the emotion isn't there. It means that you are structuring things in such a way that you are not going to dwell on emotion in that way that you might have a slower moment. But in no way have you taken emotion away. Because of Sina's action, based, in fact, anything. There is more emotion in those scenes, not less. 5. Context Heightens Suspense: The second thing that we want to consider when we're talking about sort of planning out and riding our action scenes is the context of the scene itself. You will do yourself a world of good if you let me know exactly how stressed out I should be. We don't know what we don't know. So can I read a watch, a fight scene and Havas? We don't know what we don't know. So can a Reeder read a scene in which your character has to go through 6000 little traps like a mission Impossible movie to get some sort of micro computer chip? Can we read that and understand enough all the tension from it? Absolutely. And that could be just fine. But you can also set us up beforehand to be aware of just how challenging it is, because this can actually make us appreciate it all the more I think about the mission. Impossible. Louise. The mission. Impossible Movies basically always have at least one scene where Tom Cruise has to go through this tunnel. Then he has declined that thing, and then he's got a walk over these wires, and he has to avoid this and this and this, and they sit there and they say, Here's what you're going to have to do And they basically prime Tom Cruise on A with the challenges that he's going to face to get this microchip or to get this object that he asked to obtain. And they tell Tom in advance everything that he's going to go through. Well, what does that do for us as viewers of that? It makes us go. Oh, my goodness, this is really hard. They set us up. We know how hard it is going to be so that when we watch it, we're really gripped. Were like, Oh my goodness, it's so hard because they've told us, um, you know, and so that that kind of context just heightens the suspense. Do you have to do it? Absolutely not. There are lots of stories that don't, but it can be a way to really tell your readers or your viewers if you're writing a screenplay to help them appreciate how tense it's going to be and to start the nervous energy going before we even get to that scene. Contextualizing is it's just an important way for people to appreciate things, especially if you're writing a story with swords or guns or what have you. A lot of people have not even heard this hound of a bullet being fired. So giving a sense putting into context how heavy a weapon is or how loud something is or how challenging it actually is to lift this thing or how delicate that is, that's really important. If I'm a baker and I've made this beautiful chocolate sculptured, it's so lovely and I say, Look at my beautiful chocolate sculpture and you think that's nice and I'm sitting here thinking, Do you realize how delicate this is? Do you realize how challenging it was to melt this chocolate and to make it smooth and to make it shiny and to have it not crack? And I'm thinking of all of these challenges that I overcame to make my beautiful chocolate sculpture. But because I didn't contextualized any of that few, you don't don't appreciate any of it. So when you're thinking about your action scenes and you totally don't want to blow to them , but you want to think about how can I contextualized this in a way that will make my reader or make my viewer appreciate just how hard just how suspenseful, just how dangerous this really is. You can also provide context as it relates to other things as well, such as characters and setting. Just keep in mind that nothing, it happens in a vacuum. Nothing happens in a void, so everything happens, provided by the context of the things around it. If your character is constantly in a battle, then the battle is kind of the norm. So it's not going to be high action. If your character is not used to that, then it becomes something different. So everything you do surrounding that scene is a part of that context civilization. So it's just important to think about what's coming before that scene and after that scene , and how you set up the rest of your story that's going to make that seen the success as it is the writing of the actual scene itself. In character centric novels, the capture really is the heartbeat of this story now stores a different and some stories you spend more time up in the head of a character than you do, and others don't think that because you're writing a thriller or an action based story that you have to give up on character development, but don't also feel like you have to develop a character in the same way. There are plenty of great stories that are sort of adventure type stories in which we're not up in the character's head, and yet we do still feel connected to that character. So there are no necessarily hard and fast rules that way, when it comes to action scenes themselves, there are certain things about characters, certain character development, things that you might consider when you're thinking about an action scene. And so some of these would include things like What other skills or training? You know? Are they particularly set up to be able to do this or not? You think of Suzanne Collins, the Hunger Games and Katniss and how you know how ready is Katniss really to be a participant in those games or not? So you know what are the skills or training that they have or they don't have? What are their experiences? So they might have certain skills, but they don't have experience. They might. Somebody might have the skills to shoot a narrow but no experience, actually killing someone with a narrow. So so you want not only to think about, Okay, their their their skills. But what experience have they had to prepare them for this event? Um, physical fitness or other such traits? Are they up to the challenge? Bodily. So you again you could have certain skills. You could have experience that maybe your body is not up for this. Or maybe it really is knowledge. What do they know and what don't they? What? Don't they know that they should know? Um also just their attire or props. So, you know, clothing and weapons they might have or things like that and then weaknesses. You definitely want to think about weaknesses because we're not going to feel very suspenseful. And on the InterVarsity about an action scene, if we don't know that your character could lose out and could have weaknesses. So these are all the kinds of traits that you would want to think about with a character in action scene and sort of if you know you're going to be doing action scenes then as you just sort of go on with character development outside of the action scene writing itself. You'll want to think about these things and think about them not only for your protagonists but also for your antagonise and for the other characters in the scene. And what's going to really help you on this is you Look down at this list. Don't don't let your character have everything. Don't let your character have all the experience and all of the wisdom and all of the physical prowess and all of the weapons and all of the everything. If your characters got it all, I'm not worried, so make sure your character doesn't have little. Which of these things does your character have? Which of these things does your character not have? And how does how does that apply to every other character in the scene? And don't let all of your characters having the same gift. Characters should be different. Some characters should have strengthened. Some characters should have more knowledge, and that's what's going to make it interesting. If all of your character sort of registered the same, then I'm not going to be terribly interested. But these are the sorts of things you can be thinking about when you're putting your characters into that scene, because these are the questions that an action scene we will be wondering. Action scenes are also, speaking of character, a great place to do some character development. You might not think so. You might think this is an action scene. This is not a time to develop a lot of character. I get that my character has to have a lot of the emotion I get that it's high stakes. But character development doesn't have to happen right now. Actually, no action scenes can be a great place to have character development. Let's consider for a moment it can be interesting. If your character is a thief who is going to sneak into a museum and he's going to steal a specific painting and then he's going to leave. That's interesting. I would like to see that scene, but it's more interesting if that thief is going to steal the painting from a museum that his ex wife is a curator at, and she divorced him and he still loves her, and he knows that she's seeing into the man, and he just can't help himself. He's in this museum, he snuck in. He cannot help himself. He hus to just take a moment and go into the offices to her desk and kind of go through her things. That's so much more interesting not only because we're developing the character, because now, but also because now, like we've set up more, that can go wrong. You know, like before we were like, get the painting and get out. Now we're like, Oh my gosh, you've got the painting. Your there you're so close. You're so close the door, It's right there. The doors right there. Don't go in and look at her office. You don't need to do that. It made it so much more interesting that way as well. So I think about those character development angles and the weaknesses of your character and how you can weave these things together to make the action scene both about character development as well as action. And it doesn't even have to be with the main character. Think about, um, Disney's Aladdin and Abu, and all the Latin has to do is go in and get lamp and leave. Don't touch any of the treasure. Just get your lab and go but Abou cannot help himself A boot. We know we watched him. We watch a lot of you know Abou know Abou don't touch anything. And then you know there is a boo and just touches the treasure. And then, like, Whoa, we ended everything. So again these weaknesses in this character development, this tension you can create throughout it. It's so much fun. So don't ignore all of that glorious character development that you do throughout the whole story just because you can in action. 6. Character Development: in character centric novels. The capture really is the heartbeat of this story. Now stores are different and some stories you spend more time up in the head of a character than you do. And others don't think that because you're writing a thriller or an action based story that you have to give up on character development but don't also feel like you have to develop a character in the same way. There are plenty of great stories that are sort of adventure type stories in which we're not up in the character's head, and yet we do still feel connected to that character. So there are no necessarily hard and fast rules that way, when it comes to action scenes themselves, there are certain things about characters, certain character development, things that you might consider when you're thinking about an action scene. And so some of these would include things like what other skills or training, you know? Are they particularly set up to be able to do this or not? You think of Suzanne Collins, the Hunger Games and Katniss and how you know how ready is Katniss really to be a participant in those games or not so you know, what are the skills or training that they have or they don't have? What are their experiences? So they might have certain skills, but they don't have experience. They might. Somebody might have the skills to shoot a narrow but no experience, actually killing someone with a narrow. So So you want not only to think about, okay, their their their skills. But what experience have they had to prepare them for this event? Um, physical fitness or other such traits? Are they up to the challenge? Bodily. So you again, you could have certain skills you could have experience. But maybe your body is not up for this. Or maybe it really is, um, knowledge. What do they know and what don't they? What? Don't they know that they should know also just their attire or props. So, you know, clothing and weapons they might have or things like that. And then weaknesses. You definitely want to think about weaknesses, because we're not going to feel very suspenseful. And on the intervarsity about an action scene, if we don't know that your character could lose out and could have weaknesses. So these are all the kinds of traits that you would want to think about with a character in action scene and sort of. If you know you're going to be doing action scenes, then, as you just sort of go on with character development outside of the action scene writing itself, you'll want to think about these things and think about them not only for your protagonists but also for your antagonise and for the other characters in the scene. And what's going to really help you on this is you Look down at this list. Don't don't let your character have everything. Don't let your character have all the experience and all of the wisdom and all of the physical prowess and all of the weapons and all of the everything. If your characters got it all, I'm not worried, so make sure your character doesn't have little. Which of these things does your character have? Which of these things does your character not have? And how does how does that apply to every other character in the scene? And don't let all of your characters having the same gift Characters should be different. Some characters should have strengthen. Some characters should have more knowledge, and that's what's going to make it interesting. If all of your characters sort of registered the same, then I'm not going to be terribly interested. But these are the sorts of things you can be thinking about when you're putting your characters into that scene. Because these are the questions that an action scene we will be wondering. Action scenes are also, speaking of character, a great place to do some character development. You might not think so. You might think this is an action scene. This is not a time to develop a lot of character. I get that my character has to have a lot of the emotion I get that it's high stakes. But character development doesn't have to happen right now. Actually, no action scenes can be a great place to have character development. Let's consider for a moment it can be interesting. If your character is a thief who is going to sneak into a museum and he's going to steal a specific painting and then he's going to leave. That's interesting. I would like to see that scene, but it's more interesting if that thief is going to steal the painting from a museum that his ex wife is a curator at, and she divorced him and he still loves her. And he knows that she's seeing into the man and he just can't help himself. He's in this museum. He snuck in. He cannot help himself. He hus to just take a moment and go into the offices to her desk and kind of go through her things. That's so much more interesting, not only because we're developing the character, because now, but also because now, like we've set up more, that can go wrong. You know, like before we were, like, get the painting and get out. Now we're like, Oh my gosh, you've got the painting. Your there you're so close. You're so close the door. It's right there, the doors right there. Don't go in and look at her office. You don't need to do that. It made it so much more interesting that way as well. So I think about those character development angles and the weaknesses of your character and how you can weave these things together to make the action scene both about character development as well as action. And it doesn't even have to be with the main character. Think about um, Disney's Aladdin and Abu and all the Latin has to do is go in and get lamp and leave. Don't touch any of the treasure. Just get your lamp and go. But Abou cannot help himself A boot. We know we watched him. We watch a lot like no, you know Abou don't touch anything. And then, you know there is a boo and just touches the treasure. And then, like, Whoa, we ended everything. So again these weaknesses in this character development, this tension you can create throughout it. It's so much fun. So don't ignore all of that glorious character development that you do throughout the whole story just because you can in action. 7. Determine the Odds: Let's talk about the odds. Part of what makes an action scene interesting is when we go into it thinking about what are the odds. If we really go into an action scene thinking, Yeah, our characters got this. What's our emotional level there Now? That doesn't mean by the way, that you can't have a scene in which we are like, Yeah, the characters got this that we don't still think is interesting. It can be true And certainly, you know, with certain Siri's, whether it's mission impossible or something else. There are so many action movies you watch and you know, you know that the end of the day it's all gonna work out because this is the six Jack Reacher book you've read, and you know it's going to work out really overall so emotionally or in a different place. But that doesn't change that. It's still interesting and fun, high action, so I'm not saying otherwise, But every action scene there are arms, and so you, as a viewer were sitting there going well, who's stronger? Whose wiser, whose bigger who has more guns? You know who's faster. These are the sorts of traits that those scenes favor, and we're doing that as a viewer. So you want to keep that in mind. Is the author and say All right, My readers, my viewers, they're sitting there figuring out what the odds are for this and those odds set up for us , how much we care, how invested. We are emotionally stressed. We are about that scene. So it really is helpful when we go into a scene like this where you say, Who has the upper hand going into this scene? It's just like David and Goliath, right? David were like, Oh, you're this little weak boy has a sling. And then there's Goliath, whose huge and as a big army and big weapons and everything else will we go alkali. It's got the upper hand in that scene. Um, so the ability of story build your scenes that when we walk into that scene, we have a sense of who's got the upper hand. That helps us in terms of how stressed we are. This also applies to sports stories. You think of Disney's Remember the Titans? That football team was set up in those games to be the failure team in this plot outside of the action scenes that would be the games themselves, set us up to feel like the Titans were not the winning team. So you want to do all of that set up That has to happen outside of your action scene. You can't just set that all up once you get to the scene. Which again is why it's so important that everything you're doing outside of your action scenes is Germaine and affect the scene itself. And then the next question, you would say, is not just simply, you know who has the upper hand. You know what the stakes, but who are we rooting for? So it's not just okay, who's who's got the upper hand. Who are we rooting for now? Obviously you're like, Well, I'm rooting for the protagonist. That's nice, but what are the things that have happened to make us root for somebody over another? For example, how likable are they? Are they likeable because their moral? Because admirable. Because there's pathetic, You know that we have nuances to how and why we root for someone, and a lot of stories aren't necessarily clear cut, good guy, bad guy, and we might kind of root for two people in a different way. Stories I magnificently nuanced. So these are worthy questions. Another one would be We want very well liked to write root for someone because we think he's fighting for a noble cause. If he's protecting the defenseless or standing up for the rights of someone, that's that's a reason for us to be sympathetic into fruit for that person, even if it's partially anyone is an underdog. If we think someone who's been treated unfairly or is an underdog, that makes us more likely to support him, someone who is, um, stands to suffer some pretty severe consequences. Someone's planning to suffer pretty severe consequences. There's a really good chance we're going to have some emotional sympathy for them and then people who aren't the aggressive ones people who were someone punched them and they weren't the one acting out. We're going to sympathize with those people. So again, I mean, think about things that can make a character lose or gain moral ground. If somebody is unfair or, you know, there are rules to a fight and they break them or somebody throws the first punch or somebody isn't playing fair. Those things that make us not like a character and those are things that can make us not like our, our main character. Main characters and protagonists make mistakes, too. So maybe the person that overall for the whole story we're rooting for in that action scene we're rooting for him a little less because he was unfair. He didn't fight there or something like that. So So, Kim Nuance. Let your characters make mistakes. Let your characters be flawed and bring that into your action scenes. But always remember you. We are going as readers. We were asking ourselves, What are the stakes? Who stands to win? Munich. What are the odds? Who am I rooting for? 8. What Can Go Wrong ?: you want to brainstorm what can go wrong? It is boring if it always is a success. We don't want your main character toe always win. It's good for your character to try things and have those things not work out. It's good for your character to lose sometimes, and we need that as viewers and readers so that we're not bored and so that we actually would sit on the edge of our seats in a way that we wouldn't otherwise. So it's very helpful if your character one, does not succeed all of the time. Sometimes your character needs to fail. They can fail because of a mistake that they made. They can fail because of mistake that someone else made. They conf ale because the circumstances just weren't right. But they failed. Um, so you know, even in a scene where they might ultimately win out. Perhaps they don't succeed the first time, and then they have to try again so they can fail in a scene and still overall succeed in that scene. But but but give some variety give us a failure. It's also really interesting if their initial method doesn't end up being what they have to do so. You know, when a character has a plan, this is what we're going to do, and then they start to do it. And then there's a roadblock and unexpected roadblock. And suddenly plan A is out the window. And either they have to do a Plan B or even more interesting. They don't have a Plan B, and they're winging it. That can make things very interesting. So, yes, sometimes your character has a plan and he goes in and he achieves it. It's so great. But sometimes and very often things go wrong. The best laid plans of mice and men, as they say, and this totally applies to action. See, having said this, when your characters are actually making their plans and saying this is what we're going to do, um, to get back to the contextualizing that we were talking about. If you want to create even more suspense, setting us up for why alternatives are not a good idea will make it more suspenseful. For example, if your character has to either go through the dark woods or go through the mire e bog and they say what we're going to go through the bog because we know the way. And the dark woods are a really bad option because of these hideous little creatures that live there that will eat and suck on your flesh. Then we know why we're not going into the woods. So now, as we're going through the bog and the bog isn't working out, we're pretty stressed out about the woods. If you haven't told me what was so bad about the alternative that they didn't want to do it , I would be less stressed. So again, that contextual ization matters. And that could be a really interesting way to make your readers and your viewers more invested in that scene. Let's talk about setting setting matters so much, especially when you're thinking about an action scene. Because just like you want to keep the characters interesting. And just like you're trying to build suspense through plot and what not the setting can play such a significant role in an action scene. You know, something that takes place in a deep dark wood is going to be very different than something that takes place on a race track. It's a totally different feel, and it can be so much to bring that setting to life and in some ways make it its own character in the scene itself. Um, now you don't have to have some sort of exotic locale for your scene, but it really can be helpful to think, you know, if you got the options to think, what's the most interesting place for this scene to occurred? I'm going to have this battle. Where is it more interesting for it to take place? You know Alfred Hitchcock's um, north by Northwest at the end. Cary Grant is not on the edge of any old cliff. He's on Mount Rushmore, which is just kind of exotic and interesting. So, you know, think about how you can leverage seen to make things as interesting as possible. Another one would be Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, where they go to Petra in Jordan. This beautiful, beautiful ruin, just like yeah, you could have gone anywhere, but they go to this a really interesting place and part of what makes movies like Indiana Jones so much fun or even mission impossible On what not think how much setting plays into those, it's because they're going to all these interesting places and and we're getting Do not just see somebody steal something or get it microchip or, you know, prevent an assassination. It's because they're preventing that assassination in the ceiling of the opera house. You know, with the scene. The setting really matters it so So be creative with that, I think, How can I use the setting itself to just make the story and this action scene mawr interesting? Onder. When you think about that, too, What old changes that one of the mission? Impossible. So I don't remember which. I'm sorry, Um, but one of the mission Impossible's It's there in its the opera in one mission. Impossible movie. Go from having to wear a tuxedo in a ball gown to riding on a motorcycle to swimming in the ocean. To me is all over the place, But that's what makes Mission impossible, fun and interesting. And because of that, each of those scenes has there own unique challenges. If all of your action scenes take place in the mountains, no, it might happen. But there's a level of boredom that hits because the certain challenges of having a battle in the mountains are the same. But if you have a battle in the mountains and then you have a battle in, the woods will now suddenly we're not dealing with the cliffs. Now we're dealing with the trees, and that's a whole different shooting. You know, that's a whole different I think we have to deal with. So you lies seen in that way. Utilize that variety questions You can ask yourself about your scene that might come into play. Or you might want to bring to bear in your stories things like, Is it indoors or outdoors? What would happen if you changed this scene and made it indoors or made it outdoors? These are questions that are really worth asking because they'll help you drill down and find what's unique about your scene. The time of day, the season, the characters. Are they on foot? Are they in a vehicle while they play nothing in a submarine like What is their transportation situation? How crowded is it? Is it really spartan or they trying to assassinate someone? But there are 10 million people around, you know, and and to that point, what is around? What are the objects? What are the buildings where other things they're dealing with really get a sense of the scene and get a sense off the lay of the land in terms of like a map of we movement where they're moving about, but also all of the objects and the people in the things happening around them. It can be helpful to sort of map it out, especially if you're having if you're really thinking in terms of movements, doing a map can be helpful necessary. But it really can be helpful because it lets you be somewhat specific about the movements that are happening and especially when it comes terms of an action scene, there are certain things that you really would want to think about. As you're considering all of these questions, we were just asking things like, Okay, where the exits If there are exits again for thinking like action scene here. So where are the exits? Where can they hide what can be used for a weapon? Makeshift or riel? Doesn't matter. But what here could be used for a weapon if I needed to use it for a weapon? What are the barriers to escape or success right? Like you know what's going to keep me from achieving what I want to achieve, going back to Mission. Impossible. And I'm talking about it so much. But they always say that you hear all the barriers Tom Cruise, that you're going to hit, what are the barriers? And then are the things you have to protect or avoid right? Is there like a child you need to protect or their child in the way? Or is there Procida and might break? Or a bomb that might go off like What must we avoid here, or protect from damage? Are what impediments weather, crowds, traps, traffic? What impediments are in going to possibly stop my character from doing what he or she needs to do? Um and then does that character have to prepare in some way all of these things you want to think about when you're thinking about setting again? It's just like when we think about character and their traits, and we want to specifically think about traits in terms you might need for an action scene . You want to do the same thing for setting because again you want to make these actions seem special and this is how you do that 9. Setting the Scene: Let's talk about setting setting matters so much, especially when you're thinking about an action scene. Because just like you want to keep the characters interesting. And just like you're trying to build suspense through plot and what not the setting can play such a significant role in an action scene. You know, something that takes place in a deep dark wood is going to be very different than something that takes place on a race track. It's a totally different feel, and it can be so much to bring that setting to life and in some ways make it its own character in the scene itself. Um, now you don't have to have some sort of exotic locale for your scene, but it really can be helpful to think, you know, if you got the options to think, what's the most interesting place for this scene to occurred? I'm going to have this battle. Where is it more interesting for it to take place? You know, Alfred Hitchcock's um, north by Northwest at the end? Cary Grant is not on the edge of any old cliff. He's on Mount Rushmore, which is just kind of exotic and interesting. So you know, think about how you can leverage seen to make things as interesting as possible. Another one would be Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, where they go to Petra in Jordan. This beautiful, beautiful ruin. It's like, Yeah, you could have gone anywhere, but they go to this a really interesting place and part of what makes movies like Indiana Jones so much fun or even mission Impossible. On what not think how much setting plays into those. It's because they're going to all these interesting places and we're getting Do not just see somebody steal something or getting microchip or, you know, prevent an assassination. It's because they're preventing that assassination in the ceiling of the opera house. You know, with the scene. The setting really matters it so So be creative with that. I think, How can I use the setting itself to just make the story and this action scene mawr interesting? Onder When you think about that, too, What old changes that one of the mission? Impossible. So I don't remember which. I'm sorry. Um, but one of the mission Impossible's It's there in its the opera in one mission. Impossible movie go from having to wear a tuxedo in a ball gown, too. Riding on a motorcycle to swimming in the ocean to it is all over the place. But that's what makes Mission impossible, fun and interesting. And because of that, each of those scenes has their own unique challenges. If all of your action scenes take place in the mountains, no, it might happen. But there's a level of boredom that hits because the certain challenges of having a battle in the mountains are the same. But if you have a battle in the mountains and then you have a battle in the woods will now suddenly we're not dealing with the cliffs. Now we're dealing with the trees, and that's a whole different shooting. You know, that's a whole different. I think we have to deal with. So you realize, seen in that way, utilize that variety questions. You can ask yourself about your scene that might come into play, Or you might want to bring to bear in your stories things like, Is it indoors or outdoors? What would happen if you changed this scene and made it indoors or made it outdoors? These are questions that are really worth asking because they'll help you drill down and find what's unique about your scene. The time of day, the season, the characters. Are they on foot? Are they in a vehicle playing on the submarine like what is their transportation situation ? How crowded is it? Is it really Spartan or they trying to assassinate someone? But there are 10 million people around, you know, and and to that point, what is around, What are the objects? What are the buildings where other things they're dealing with really get a sense of the scene and get a sense off the lay of the land In terms of like a map of we movement where they're moving about, but also all of the objects and the people in the things happening around them? It can be helpful to sort of map it out, especially if you're having if you're really thinking in terms of movements, doing a map can be helpful necessary, but it really can be helpful because it lets you be somewhat specific about the movements that are happening and especially when it comes terms of an action scene. There are certain things that you really would want to think about as you're considering all of these questions. We were just asking things like, Okay, where the exits. If there are exits again for thinking like action scene here. So, where the exits? Where can they hide? What can be used for a weapon? Makeshift or riel? Doesn't matter. But what here could be used for a weapon if I needed to use it for a weapon? What are the barriers to escape or success, right? Like you know what's going to keep me from achieving what I want to achieve. Going back to mission. Impossible. And I'm talking about so much. But they always say that you hear all the barriers, Tom Cruise that you're going to hit, what are the barriers? And then, are the things you have to protect or avoid right? Is there like a child you need to protect or their child in the way? Or is there Procida and might break? Or a bomb that might go off like what must we avoid here, or protect from damage? Are what impediments weather, crowds, traps, traffic. What impediments are in going to possibly stop my character from doing what he or she needs to do and then does that character have to prepare in some way all of these things you want to think about when you're thinking about setting again? It's just like when we think about character and their traits, and we want to specifically think about traits in terms you might need for an action scene . You want to do the same thing for setting, because again you want to make these actions seem special and this is how you do that. 10. Realistic Sensory Details: the last thing I want to talk about in terms of planning your action scenes is educating yourself on the actions themselves, part of what really can make an action scene come to life or the little details, how something sounds, how something felt, the weight of something. And, yes, you can do a certain amount of that just from your imagination, especially because most of us haven't wielded a sword or things like that. But but having experience or knowing a bit about the kinds of actions self will really matter. So if you've got someone you know swimming, snorkeling in the oceans that he can get to the next port or whatever, take some time to read up a little bit on snorkeling and what that might feel like. One of the challenges of snorkeling or any of that. Do you know anything? How do those certain weapons feel? What's it like to be in this climate? So when you are considering setting, when you are considering all of the situational things that happen in an action scene, what does it feel like to be punched? What does it feel like? Toe? Have a bullet grazed your shoulder take time. We have this glorious thing called the Internet. It's so much easier to get that information and and don't feel like you really go For the visceral personal information. Read forums on people who know something about snorkeling. Talk with people who you know do these things. If you're writing a book in which there's a lot of shooting and firearms, if you don't want to fire me, go to a shooting range and fire. Cem guns off at a shooting range, and if you don't want to do that, talk with people who do shoot guns. If you're writing something that's about the military, go talk with people who've been in those situations. The personal stories and make the small details that you will garner. There will make your scenes come to life in a way that nothing else will, and it will make your writing stand out in a way that most people's won't. I deeply believe in this. I believe in this outside of action scenes, but definitely definitely think about doing this for your action scenes 11. Assignment Part One: okay in this assignment, what I'd like for you to do is there is a wonderful little worksheet and questionnaire I have for you that will help answer a lot of the questions. And the idea is that we have talked about up until this point thes richest ways for you to start brainstorming your class and thinking about the characters in this setting in the stakes and the odds and the moral high ground and all of these things. It's a way for you to help sort of get these things down on paper and start tracking them. So I recommend that you take some time and flesh these things out. If you're in the middle of a story already and taken action, senior planning on writing If you're not in the middle of a story, just make up a scene that's fine to the exercises there for the practice. Reading and practicing writing is going to go so far for you. Don't always think that you have to just write some big, long novel can be great just to practice writing a scene. So I recommend that you download the worksheet for the action scene planning and fill that out and then proceed through the rest of the course 12. Pacing and Wording: okay riding action scenes, the nitty gritty off the text it sells. I'm so excited about this because I love all of the sort of nuanced details of writing. But there are numerous things that you can do to make sure that your action scenes are very high energy and very punchy again, this all dependent on your style. So keep that in mind as we go through this section. First and foremost, I would like to talk about pacing and wording, and the first thing that we want to think about here are just the length of your sentences . Short sentences read faster than long sentences so short. Simple sentences in structure are just It's a faster paced, then some sort of long complex or compound compound complex sentence. Does that mean all your sentences have to be like that? No. But if you've read a lot of action and thrillers, you will note that it actually quite a lot of very successful thriller writers employ this . It's just very brief. A lot of their sentences are 234 words. Even so, keeping in mind those short sentences that that actually will speed up the feel of the narrative itself. Let's look at an example this. Let's look at an example in which we compare something that feels a little bit longer, and then we'll try to make it a bit shorter and punchier. She ran to the door, flung it open and leapt down the sidewalk in time to see them pull away, her face filling with a trail of smoky fumes. There was no time to lose. Instinctively, she placed her hands over her pockets, feeling whether the stones were still there. They were sawing with relief. She turned to go back inside. There was planning to do all right now that's short of this. She bolted to the door, flung it open and leaked down the sidewalk. They had already left. Fumes hit her face. She winced. There was no time to lose. Instinctively, she felt her pockets. The stones were still there. Small favor, her mind raced. What next? Did you see that? The 2nd 1 were basically getting the same information. But it it clips along faster, feels faster because we just have a lot of these really short sentences. So that's one thing that you can do that will help speed up the feel of your scene. The next thing that you can do is actually to do with the actual location of the words in your sentence. Because in general, this Stort and the end of sentences is where the the most emphasis can be, I would say generally very end of the sentence is the primary place of emphasis. This does depend on how the sentences structured, though, but that's the thing you're leaving someone with. Those are the last words, and so they they carry a lot of weight. But the first section can as well. The middle of the sentence is generally the weakest least emphasized place in your sentences. So depending on surgeon words of certain emotions or certain thoughts you want your region to be left with. You want to place those things strategically in your sentences. Let's look at an example. We have to go now. Blame grabbed her hand. Let's compare that blame. Grabbed her hand. We have to go now. Now, let's just look at these. So do you see how the 1st 1 that the point the stress of this sentence is? We have to go now? That's the most important thing in this sentence. Both of these sentences are fine, but in the 1st 1 we have to go now, Blaine said. We're ending with Blaine set. That's kind of a week ending. Blame grabbed her hand. We have to go now. Now you've left me that the last thing is a really strong thing. You left me with the most important piece of that sentence, and so there's an emphasis there that heightens the energy. Let's look at another example. The tunnel was narrow, dork and wet, and it ran over three miles with no brakes for air. It was going to be a challenge. Now it's with this year, the way the tunnel would be the challenge. Narrow, dork and wet. It ran over three miles with no brakes for air. Now do you see on this one this rather than being about an organization of phrases? This is an organization of information and what's most important here? What's the crux of this? These two sentences, it's that the tunnel is going to be challenging. The description of the tunnel supports that. So here what we do is when we read the tunnel was now a dork and wet and it ran over three miles with no brakes for air. It was going to be a challenge. What you've done there is you're giving me a lot of details without dying and again either one of them works. But the reason that the 2nd 1 is better is because you're setting me up with the main piece of information and then you're kind of elaborating on it. And because of that, I'm able to read the description of the tunnel with a certain purpose in mind. So when you say the tunnel would be the challenge now are dark and wet. Ran over three miles, etcetera. Then I'm like, OK, yes, I see. I see it's a challenge. But if you set me up with a bunch of information, be first before telling you why it matters, then my I'm listening to the information. But I'm also saying, OK, why does this matter? We've all had this experience more than once in our lives where someone starts to talk with us and they start to describe something to us. And we're sitting there thinking, OK, but okay, what? Why does this matter why you're telling me this right? I walk into the room and I say, I spoke with John today and he was so mean and he was just he just He was abrasive. He came into my office and he was just really just not nice. And by the end of the conversation, he fired me. Okay, you're sitting there. Okay, John and John, He's not nice. What's the point? But if I say John fired me, he walked into my office. He was so mean to me. He was so abrasive. I'm like, Whoa, you got fired. And then I'm really focused on all of this description as it pertains to this firing. What happened? So you can organize sentences like we did with Blaine, grabbing her hand where we're putting the emphasis in a certain place for the structure of the phrases. But you also organized sentences based on the information you're giving and where you want that to hit your readers. Next, let's talk about verbs. I just loved digging into the words and so much fun. So action scenes, you might think verbs are bit important. And they are Don't be generic with your verbs. So generic would be say something like, I made a cake. You can make a lot of things. I can make a footstool, but I can bake a cake. I can't bake a footstool. I guess I could make a footstool cake cake that looked like a footstool. But baking a cake bake is a very specific word for cake, making itself cooking, so use those specific verbs. Be interesting in that way, having said that caveat, Do not Please, please, please avoid going and trying to find all of the most exotic verbs you can find. In general, you really do want to keep your verbs to normal verbs that we all use, but just interesting verbs. Let's look at an example you could say ran, But you could also say bolted, bounded, scampered. All of those are pretty much totally normal words. We would use those words, but different, and then they can say different things. Now there are verbs that you kind of want to be careful with and you want to be wary of, and the first of these would be, um, state of being verbs. Now, what is the state of being verb state of being? Burbs are things like is AM or this class. Actually, I have a document you can download of verbs to avoid. So download that, because I'll give you a lot of different examples of it. But there, there, verbs that just they tell you I am. They are those little words dead in your writing. They just kind of way it down. And most often they make the writing feel more passive, and you can get rid of them and have a more direct sentences. So let's look at an example of this first with state of being verbs. And then what happens when we take them out? I am sure you would have seen it coming if you had waited longer, you might remember my telling you she might be late. Now, do you see that I am there? That I am sure that weighs it down so we could say, rather than I am sure you would have seen it coming. If you had waited long enough, we could say you would have seen it coming if you had waited. And then I told you she might be late rather than you might remember my telling you she might be late. See where that gets it gets so clunky. I am sure you would have seen coming if you had waited longer. You might remember by telling you she might be late. You would have seen it coming if you had waited. I told you she might be late. Getting rid of those state of being burbs just speeds the whole thing up. Let's look at another example. The girl was running toward the train. Rather, you could just say the girl raced toward the train so you don't need that waas running she raised. So to keep very direct and action oriented. The second kind of verve that you really want to try to avoid are verbs that rely on adverbs. So, rather than saying she angrily stared at her sister, say she glared at her sister. When you get to a place where you're using adverbs, generally speaking, there is a verb that's better than the adverb. So if you have to tell me, she angrily stared, look for a different word, glared, get rid of the adverb, find a strong verb instead, And finally, another thing to look out for when you're sort of reviewing a writing are verbs that end in i n g Those I n g verbs are very often accompany a state of being verb, so you just you'll keep that in mind. But rather than saying she was running, just say she ran. So you you're cutting little words out here and there. And it might not seem like much to just chopped a word or here or there but by calling down to fewer words that actually have a high impact. Your writing is so much stronger, so keep that in mind. Try to keep that word, the amount of words down to a minimum and part of how you do that by having very strong verbs and avoiding all of those weak verbs. 13. Simplicity for Speed: when it comes to riding action scenes. One of the biggest challenges that I see that people have is simply information management . It's wanting to include far, far, far too much information in that scene. People. It's like they want to describe all of the action and every punch and every movement and every No, you don't need to do that. You don't need to do that. You want to keep keep it Sporten. Give your reader room to imagine. Don't give me a blow by blow punch by punch fight stabbed by fight stub Look, there will the times in your scenes where you really are. It feels that way was this happened? Then this happened. Then this happened. It feels tight like that, but you're actually being strategic about that tightness, and you don't want to overdo that. Pick a few actions that are happening. A Pack them together. But don't give me a ton of information. The more information you stuff into that scene for more, you will slow it down, and so you're going to keep it tight and focused. If you just pick the choice pieces of information, the choice actions, the choice setting descriptions the choice notes of character emotion. Select the best of the best and include those and leave the rest out. 14. Dialogue that moves: I do also want to touch on the directness of dialogue. This is not a time to have a lot of woody conversations. Were the conversations slow scenes down there? Not really action based in the same way. So just like we talked about having short, punchy sentences, it can really help you to have short dialogue. That's very focused. Let's look at an example. Joshua shook his head. We can't go that way, he said, running his fingers through his hair. Why not? Bristol furrowed her brow. He pointed toward the door. It's blocked. How do you see here? How we have quite a bit of description happening. Joshua shook his head. We can't go that way. Runs his fingers through his hair. He points toward the door, burst still furrows a brow. There's just a lot of description happening. Let's look at it like this. We can't go that way. Can't go out that way, he said. Why not blocked now? First of all, this is far more realistic, far more realistic that someone would just talk like that and not talking complete sentences. But look how much shorter and how much faster and Hamas punchier. It is just for him to say we can't go out that way, he said. Why not blocked? Does it mean you can't describe things? No. There's, there's things you describe. Be purposeful. We don't need to see him shaking his head. That's kind of extra information. He's saying that it's not gonna work, so we can imagine someone might shake his head, so that's not really helpful information. Norris's running his fingers through his hair That doesn't actually add anything. So can there be action happening? Yes, but running his fingers through his hair and shaking his head, those are actually useless bits of information. They really slow it down to keep your dialogue punchy and strong. 15. Point of View: Let's talk briefly about point of view. The point of view you choose for your story is absolutely going to influence the way your action scene goes. If you're in a first person perspective, you will be more likely tohave emotional thoughts running through your character's head. If you're in 1/3 person limited, you're going to again. You will be focused on that characters a single catchers experiences. You might be more likely to be up in his head if you 1/3 personal mission. You have to be very careful because your tendency will want to be to jump around from character to character. And you're going to have to be very careful. In general, you want to really stay focused with your point of view. Trying to present an action scene in particular from a lot of people's points of view can be confusing precisely because the scene everything's happening so fast. Already, there's just already so much happening. If you've got me jumping around into a lot of different people's heads that can get quite confusing, that doesn't mean you can't show how other characters are feeling. If you're sitting there saying Well, I want to show our my antagonised feels rather than jumping from your protagonists, Head to your antagonised said, Show the expressions on your antagonists face. You know, just just do a show. Don't tell. But in action scenes, very often, keeping it track with one person will be very helpful for you. And when you're doing this new writing from the carriages perspective, don't neglect the sensory details that we talked about earlier. Those add a tremendous amount and keep in mind when you zoom in on those details that can feel like it's speeding things up. She licked her lips. They were salty from her sweat. Things like that make us just lean in. So and you don't have to do with everything. But But that would be that being in that place is like being in the action. And when we're in the action, it feels more focused and immediate writing outside of the action. And by that I mean sort of observing people moving around a supposed to the the arrow whizzed by her face. Um, that gives you context and both can be helpful. But thinking think cinematically when you're riding these things, think about okay of my zooming out and I'm getting a good perspective. And now I'm zoomed in and its immediate think about Phil and how, when scenes store in film, usually we see the panorama of New York City, and then we see the street and then we see the building, and then we see a man in his office and that's told us where we are. And that doesn't mean you have to do that with a story, but think cinematically. OK, am I focused in on someone's face? It's very immediate and sweats on his brow. Or am I pulled out? I'm watching things, and that's up to you, but we're thinking cinematically can help you very much. You also want to make sure that when you're doing this and you're riding the scenes that you respect your Regis intelligence, don't tell them things that they don't need to know. It sort of goes back to the examples we were talking about with some superfluous information. But leave off anything that your read it doesn't need to know. Let's look at an example. Fear flooded her when she again heard his footsteps. She thought for sure he would not make it through the trap, but the sound of his gate was unmistakable. It has not deterred in. All right now, let's look at this written in a more precise way. Then, out of the silence came the sound of the unmistakable gate. The trap had not worked. Now, numerous things here to go back to the power of sentences. What's the focus of this sentence? The trap had not worked, and we're left with that were left with that phrase. It hits us like a stone because off the way that we've worded this and set the sentences up . But that first passage is so clunky. Fear flooded her when she again heard his footsteps. Now, based on, we're just assuming the way the rest of the story would go. She's already worried that this man is following her. So of course, fears going to flood her when she hears his footsteps. Um, then all of this extra wording here with she thought for sure he would not make it through the trap. Of course, she thought he wouldn't make it through the trap. That's why she set the trap. She thought the trap would work and it didn't. And so then we hear his gate and that we know. Okay, The trap hadn't deterred him. Well, yes, If we here I'm walking, then we know that the trap had, in fact, no work. So we just there so much there we don't need and it's It's It's just so punchy. Otherwise, then out of the silence came the sound of his unmistakable gate. The trap had not worked so much stronger. It's so much stronger. So you want to just really, I cannot say enough that writing action scenes is truly not just about your plot, your characters. It's so much how you structure your actual sentences. 16. Style Comparisons: What I'd like to do now is just show you a few comparisons of different peoples styles. Everything that we've talked about again can be very helpful for you, but I cannot stress enough that every writer has his or her own stylistic choice. And there are so many ways to write a great action scene. I definitely recommend reading a lot of different people. I do have for you a recommended reading list that I suggest that you look at. I think it will be tremendously helpful for you. But let's go ahead and look at some examples of people's writing in brief, this first acceptance from Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games All the general fear I've been feeling condenses into an immediate fear of this girl. This predator might kill me in seconds. Adrenaline shoots through me and I sling the pack over one shoulder and run full. Speaking for the woods, I can hear the blade whistling toward me and reflexively hike the pack up to protect my head. The blade largest in the pack, both straps on my shoulders. Now I make for the trees that do you see here. There's so much emotion in this this. This condenses this immediate fear. Adrenaline shoots through me. But then there's also all of this action on DSHEA. She's using much longer sentences, so and it totally works. It's a great action scene, but Suzanne Collins employees those longer sentences. She employs that first person perspective. She employs emotion in a way that we won't see it in Some of these other examples. The next one I'd like to look at is just a few sentences from Lee Child from the killing floor, which is his Jack Reacher. Siri's. The guy with the revolver stayed at the door. He went into a crouch and pointed the weapon two handed at my head. The guy with shotgun approached close. These were fit, lean boys, neat and tidy Textbook moves. The result. The revolver at the door could cover the room with a degree of accuracy. Do you see? In this case, it's It's so punching the guy with He went and crouched and at my head, and they were fit, neat and tidy. Textbook moves very, very short, very fast, very choppy. And that's that's that Lee child's writing style. But especially when you get to an action scene like that. Let's compare that to Robert Ludlum, Um, from his Bourne identity. Again, another action oriented senior, the patient crouched, shooting his right hand up to grip the net. Friends left forearm, yanking it downward than rising, pushing his victims arm up, twisting it at its highest orc clockwise, yanking him again, finally releasing it while jamming his heel into the small of the net. Man's back. No, everybody has their own tastes and things and whatnot, but this is a situation that really is blow by blow. And again, this is so important. And why won't you just see this is that everyone does things differently. This is totally blow by blowing, crouched, he shot. He moved Yankee to listen to that. I mean, start and you can have some of that. You can also totally overdo it, which he doesn't do. But this sentence is really that way. It's just a series of exactly what he did, and that's how he chooses, chooses to write. But you can see where the sentences here. While those sentences are longer than, say, Lee Childs sentences, the phrases in it are short, yanking it down, then rising, pushing his victims arm up, twisting it at its highest arc. So short little phrases in a longer sentence, which has its own effect. The last one I want to look at is actually from Treasure Island on. I'm doing this because Robert Louis Stevenson, especially when you get to those 19th century stories they often often can be a bit war Deir and I just I just want you to see how going back to what we talked about in the beginning, how, if you are awarding or writer than your actions seem to just going to be worthy er, even though you've made them faster compared to the rest of your novel. So it's just important to keep that contextual ization in your mind. We were both of us capsized in a second, and both of us rolled almost together into the scuppers, the dead red cap with his arms still spread out, tumbling stiffly after us. So near where we indeed that my head came against the Kochs Wayne's foot with a crack that made my teeth rattle. Blow it all. I was the first of foot again for hands had got involved with the dead body. Now do you see here. There's still action going, but he has these little things we would call superfluous words like so near where we indeed that my head came against the Kochs Wayne's foot and it just a with the crack that made my teeth rattle. That's quite wordy by comparison to Lly Child or to Robert Ludlum to stand Collins to a degree, but it really works within the structure of Robert Louis Stevenson sentences. So I hope going through these examples gives you some good context utilization and just a sense of some of the variety I really do recommend doing and reading a variety of different books that will help you so much. Let's now talk about your last project in supporting advice. 17. Class Project Part Two: all right, we've made it to the end. I just want to say thank you so much for watching and treated rate again that if you enjoyed this video, I hope you will go to my website and sign up for my mailing list. I'm also on social media. I am also on YouTube, so I hope that you will follow me there as well, because they do have hideous. They're on story telling things that you will not find here. So I hope you will follow me. All of this place is also if you have a moment and can leave a review. I would appreciate it so much. It is tremendously helpful both for me and for your peers. So if you can do that as well, I would appreciate it. Project for the second half of this course is to go ahead and write an action scene. It does not have to be long. If you don't have a story in mind, go ahead and just make up a scene. I have for you an action scene checklist that I recommend that you download so that once you write or seeing, you can run through that checklist it covers the things that we have talked about in this portion of the course, and you can make sure that you were. Are they doing those things or choosing not to do those things very actively? I recommend that you download that and follow through it. I also recommend that you take a moment and look all of my other courses. I have captures on plot building, seeing, building character development and point of view. All of these would be tremendously helpful for you. Specifically, if you're interested in writing scenes, I do recommend that you look at my scene building class. It is extensive, but it will help you tremendously. And if you watch that and then you sort of graft onto it. What we've talked about here in action scenes, you will be in a superposition to really write a strong scene. Also character development. We've talked a lot about that, and I have several character development classes for you that might be helpful as well. I thank you so much for watching. It's such a joy to be here to take you into anything that you have worked on and give my feet back. I appreciate you so much. I wish you, as always the very best of luck with your writing projects. My hope You have a wonderful day.