Monday, October 1, 2012

Writing Tense Action Scenes

I'm over at Stacy Green's blog today, talking about writing powerful action scenes. Here's the beginning, with a link below to the rest of the article.

by Jodie Renner, freelance fiction editor, @JodieRennerEd
Stacy recently asked me how editing thrillers is different from editing other genres. That’s a huge topic, too much for one blog post, and would include differences in plot, characterization, pacing, word choice, and writing style, among many other considerations. For today, I thought I’d just talk about writing effective action scenes, which can also appear in romantic suspense, mysteries, action adventures, fantasies, and any other genre.
When your characters are running for their lives, write tight and leave out a lot of description, especially little insignificant details about their surroundings. Of course, if the details would somehow help them, then definitely include them.
Characters on the run don’t have time to sightsee or have great long discussions. Their adrenaline is pumping and all they’re thinking of is survival.
A few quick tips for writing strong action scenes:
~ Show, don’t tell (of course!). See my blog post on this topic.
~ Stay in the scene with the characters – don’t intrude as the author to explain anything.
~ Avoid lengthy discussions among characters or long, involved thought processes.
~ Cut out any little unneeded words that are cluttering up sentences and slowing down the pace.
~ Use short sentences and paragraphs.
~ Use the most powerful verbs you can find.
~ Show your viewpoint character’s sensory impressions to suck readers in more.
~ Show your POV character’s emotional and physical reactions, starting with visceral responses.
~ Show other characters’ reactions through their words, tone of voice, actions, body language, and facial expressions.

Click HERE for the examples and the rest of the article.

Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: WRITING A KILLER THRILLER and STYLE THAT SIZZLES & PACING FOR POWER (Silver Medalist in the FAPA Book Awards, 2013).
Both titles are available in e-book and paperback. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.



  1. Your advice is 'must read' stuff.

  2. Thanks, Curt! I know you'll find my two e-books helpful, too, and they're both on sale! :-)