Saturday, February 23, 2013



In an action scene, one in which the emotions are high and the reader is on the edge of the seat, the mood is tense, the writing tight. Use all the senses, the coppery taste of blood, the cold sting of the rain, the smell of old fish. Limit the number of adjectives (descriptive words). Cut any that aren’t absolutely necessary. Find strong verbs and let them do the work. Avoid adverbs ( –ly words).
Definitely trouble
The pacing in an action scene is fast. There’s no room for background or description, which will slow the action. Save these things for slower scenes and when you want to give the reader a little time to catch her breath.
In action, every word must count. Vary the length of your sentences, using short, terse statements and fragments mixed with longer sentences. Keep paragraphs short. Eliminate “and” as much as possible. Don’t use words that dilute the meaning, such as “almost,” “seemed,” and “nearly.” Make it hard and fast; give it some punch.
Take cover!


sherry fundin said...

Hi Ellis. Great post. Can always use some hints for making my blog better. Hope you are having a good weekend.

Ellis Vidler said...

Thanks, Sherry. What's your blog address? Post it here if you want and I'll check it out.

I'm sometimes slow getting comments posted. I hate having to moderate them, but the huge amount of spam makes it necessary.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Good advice! Action verbs are important here as well.

Polly Iyer said...

Tense scenes are hard to write. You want to keep the reader turning the page by making every word count. I'm a big fan of short sentences during those scenes. That keeps the writing tight. But you also want what's happening on the page to be riveting enough to hold the reader's attention. Good post, as always, Ellis.