aarinfantasy's YAOI Collection

Writing Action

  1. Arigatomina
    Fight scenes! A lot of writers suffer from the "I've watched too much anime" syndrome, or "too many shoot-em out movies," or "too many rpg sequences".

    How do you describe action scenes? When I have a fight scene in a story, I see it the way I would watch an anime, with a sound track to emphasize the drama and key moments, blurs to denote speed, slowmo to allow thoughts and drama during those four seconds before the climax, twists and motions that defy human logic and would read ridiculous in text yet seem perfectly natural on screen. Trying to put that into a story, in words, is the hardest part of writing for me.

    Just doing a rough and tumble brawl with a few thrown punches feels awkward. I prefer to stick with what the characters are thinking and feeling (tactile) and gloss over the individual actions (right punch, left kick, ankle grab, twist and throw, etc etc). When I try to describe the actions it makes that one minute long flurry of blows turn into four paragraphs of action&reaction. On the other hand, glossing over the actions and emphasizing the instinctive "he's doing this because" aspect of the tussle makes the actual fight a vague thing for the reader. How do you find balance?

    And those slow motion scenes where a thousand things go through a character's mind during the four seconds before the blow connects - how do you write that without people complaining that it "took too long"? I've been in a car accident where time really did seem to go in slow motion, the memory is very vivid for me, and I know sudden events can and do play out in slow motion. How do you describe that in text and maintain the realism?
  2. Ferus37
    Hopefully someone better than me can leave some insight into fighting. I would love to learn more about it. A lot of my planned stories involve fighting and action, and I could really use some help with it. I struggle with just about any kind of description. I can see it, but always have troubles finding the words to show it. But here's my half-a-cent anyway.

    I tried my hand at writing a fight scene not long ago... it really is hard. I have no idea if it came out all right. (I guess I'll find that out when I post the story and maybe get some feedback on it.)

    I usually write limited 3rd person point of view, and I tend to make the character's thoughts a part of the narration instead of marking them out as thoughts. As a result the fight scene I wrote was a mixture of thoughts, feelings and actions, and all was from one character's view.

    For example: "Jordan's rage reached a whole new level of boiling as the other man easily dodged the blow. No one should be that fast, and Jordan quickly had to find another approach to the fight or he'd lose. He feigned a kick and as his opponent moved to dodge Jordan followed up with a punch from the other direction. It was a wasted attempt and Jordan found himself on the floor with a bleeding nose before he really knew what had happened. The bastard was too fast to be human."
    (I know, not the best scene ever, but hopefully you get the drift. Do please try to ignore the overuse of the name Jordan...)

    I remember a punch I read once, which kinda stuck with me. It's from a story called A Long Hard Road by Twig:
    "In retrospect, Sephiroth realized two important things. One, that he had never /really/ been on the receiving end of one of Zack's punches. Of course they had sparred, fought in mock duels up and down ShinRa's corridors... but he couldn't remember the dark-haired man ever really landing a solid, bare-fisted blow...

    ... and two, and this he thought as he watched the knuckles suddenly zoom into sharp focus... Zack had an amazingly accurate swing."

    (Yeah, I had to go find it to show you. It's about halfway into chapter 27.)
    37 chapter story, and that punch was one of the things I remembered vividly when I'd read it all. I thought of it when you mentioned the slow motion feeling when something is happening fast.

    Anyways, I'm gonna stop rambling now...
  3. Arigatomina
    Your action scenes remind me of my own. I also like to depict thoughts as part of the narration. If it's two main characters, or the main pairing of the story, I'll switch the pov back and forth with each paragraph during a fight (or smut) scene to get both sides. Or if it's two minor characters, I'll pick a main character watching from the sidelines and do his take on the scene. I only do limited pov when I'm trying to hide aspects of the opponent from the readers.

    I did a complicated chapter once that had lots of action going on simultaneously and lasted about five minutes in real time. It was seven furious and very powerful mutants wiping out a military base. I'd done a few chapters building up to it on the emotional side, so for that scene it was pure action. "He did this and it looked like that." Probably the shortest and least descriptive scene I've ever written. The feedback I got afterward said the most memorable part of the chapter was the image of them approaching the base right before the carnage starts: "They walked in a small cluster, letting the telepaths lead the way a few yards ahead of them as they broke the forest. They weren't sneaking in, and they weren't rushing. They were making an open attack and God help any soldier who tried to stop them." And then after the dust cleared: "It was stunning how quickly they'd massacred a hundred or more men, without taking a single injury themselves. But it was necessary. They'd teach OZ the dangers of taking one of their own."

    I remember it took me days to plan that scene, who was where doing what, and the only things that stood out were the entrance and the aftermath. So I'm forced to wonder...did I really need to plan and describe each individual action and position in the scene of rapid carnage when it's the bookends readers are going to remember? Or do they remember the bookends because the action was so poorly described? And does it matter when the chapter as a whole was rewarding for those who'd been waiting for it?

    I'm trying to recall the last time I read a good "freezeframe" moment in an action scene. I can imagine them fitting all over the place. Like a character punching a hole in someone's gut and slowing down to note the sensation and texture as the split skin gives way and the meaty coils compress under the knuckles. Mm, explicit (and potentially traumatizing for the first-time gut-puncher). But I've never read it. Too over the top, maybe.

    "What stood out later was yanking on the wheel, feeling the car spin, and waiting weightless, suspended, in hopes the crunch wouldn't come. It did, wrenching time back into motion with the lash of a semi plowing into the back corner of a fiberglass car."

    That's what I want to see in a dramatic action scene. That "out of body" moment before reality bodyslams the character back to earth. I tried it once and all I got was "It took way too long to be dramatic." Geh. >.< Can't put what's in my head on paper.
  4. meryvamp
    I'm writing a science-fiction, post-apocalyptic novel. It is full of action scenes. My main character is a woman warrior type. In this scene, my main character is watching two other characters duel it out I've changed the names of my characters for copyright proposes.

    "Ren was slowing down, looking tired, and in that brief instant, Ian broke through Ren’s armor on his left arm, leaving him vulnerable. However, Ren didn’t give up and tried to find some sort of weakness in Ian’s armor, but Ren wasn’t quick enough.
    Ian effortlessly struck Ren’s left arm again, ripping Ren’s liquefied armor with a deafening sound. He quickly yanked out his sword, leaving a huge gash in Ren’s upper tendon, which caused Ren to drop his golden shield. But Ren, breathless and wounded, still gripped his long, glowing sword in his right hand and aimed it at his brother once more."
    Copyright Mandy Earles 2009-2011

    And yeah, this fight scene continues on for 6 to 7 pages. I know you are probably thinking Wow, that's a long fight scene, but in all fairness, my main character (woman warrior) decides to butt in
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