Overwriting action


Next up: Tightening the action.

Your prose is glorious. Your narrative is full of thought-evoking sentences. But then comes the action.

God, I love this scene

An example of a perfect action scene


Let’s say your main character is facing the evil overlord. You’ve spent the last 800 pages building up to this swordfight.

Dial back the flowery wording, Shakespeare.

Let’s look at two examples I’m about to make up on the fly.

Example the first:

Desmond prepared himself, setting his feet as his instructor had demanded. Feeling the weight of the iron and the beading of sweat on his forehead, he arced the blade upward and deflected the Dark Lord’s blow. The chime rung in the air and vibrations shook bones and confidence. Time and again he parried, never finding purchase in the sand to launch his own attack.

Okay, that was awesome, right? I know, I kind of got caught up there. But the reader doesn’t get the feeling of urgency.

Example beta:

The Dark Lord drove at the boy’s heart. Desmond deflected. Again. Again. His bones shook. So did his confidence. The sand shifted and Desmond couldn’t find purchase. There was no chance to launch his own attack. Every dodge, every parry reminded him: the Dark Lord could not die.

Okay. Which seemed faster? More actiony? The second. The first sounds like a dance. The second sounds desperate. I often wanted my scenes to feel like life and death, but they sounded like a deadly stroll in the park.

Coming soon: Fixing more errors in writing. From the blogger who’s never made none.


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