This week: Writing Action and AdventureEdited by: Lonewolf
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Writing adventure and action is a great way to express your imagination and creativity, especially if paired with another genre like fantasy or mystery. It is also a great form of writing exercise and can be a good basis for other sub-genres of fiction-writing. Hopefully, this newsletter inspires you to write your own Action/Adventure story.
I'm Lonewolf and it has been an honor to be your Action/Adventure Newsletter Editor this week.
In adventure fiction readers follow heroes as they set out on desperate missions, fight overwhelming obstacles and often rescuing themselves and others. Our heroes carry out dangerous assignments or missions as they save the day. Typically, there is a happy ending with the hero safe and sound. While that might make you think the stories would become stale or predictable, the very best writers in the genre have written stories that thrill readers. The adventure story is one that has to have something happen. There has to be an action and conflict within the type of story. The author has to have the reader identify with the character in the story to draw them in.
Action scenes aren't just for espionage or fantasy novels: almost every story will have some sequences in which the characters are doing things. How do you get the action right? These tips will help.
1. Perform the Action
Get up and act out the scenes, when possible. Sometimes the problem is that you're not describing what a human body actually does in a given situation. If you're describing someone climbing a ladder, then climb a ladder. If it's a fight scene, throw a few punches. Try out a few kicks. If possible, observe or take a martial arts class. How do people tend to fall: on their sides, on their hands? What sorts of exclamations do they make? Do they wipe sweat away, or do they ignore it? How does a body respond when a hand or foot makes contact?
2. Pick Up the Pace
In writing action scenes, the pace must speed up, to match that of the scene. How do you do this? Keep descriptions of anything besides the action to a minimum. This isn't the place for long descriptions of setting or character. Some writers use shorter, choppier sentences, or even incomplete sentences. And describe more than just what your protagonist sees.
3. Keep Dialogue Short
As with all of your fiction, dialogue is helpful for breaking up action scenes. However, when adrenaline is flowing, people don't engage in lengthy discussions. To be realistic, keep dialogue short and snappy when writing action scenes.
4. Make Full Use of Verbs
In the first draft, don't worry about verbs: just get the action down. But in your revision, drag out the thesaurus. This is action, after all, the verbs are the most important words. They give your scene momentum. Take, for instance, this line from the novel In the Woods:
"Footsteps thumped behind me and Sweeney streaked past, running like a rugby player and already pulling out his handcuffs. He grabbed Rosalind by the shoulder, spun her around and slammed her against the wall."
"thumped", "streaked", "spun", "slammed" they're specific actions and they're active verbs, full of energy and focus. Scenes like this are not the norm in life, so the verbs will not be everyday words, nor should they call attention to themselves.
5. Learn from Other Writers
As with all aspects of writing, you can learn a lot by studying the work of writers you admire. How do they get action across? What kinds of verbs do they use? What kind of descriptions? What gives these scenes a feeling of momentum? What kinds of sentences do they use in the faster scenes? Do they use more modifiers, or fewer? And while keeping plagiarism in mind, note what phrases they use in describing certain kinds of action. It can help guide you as you revise those scenes.
6. Create an Adventure Plot Checklist
Adventure and role-playing gamers will happily tell you the importance of an outline. When writing an adventure plot, before setting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard it is crucial to know basic guidelines of what your adventurers will face, where they will go, who they will see, how they will get to the end of the adventure -- and why they take the adventure at all.
Adventures are as in-depth as the quest. All the people, places and things that you will see along the way of the adventure make it very easy to stray from the theme and override the plot of your story.
Use this checklist to keep your goals constantly in mind. Answer the questions before you start writing the story. Your story is already written? Don't worry. You can use this checklist when revising a draft of your story. As long as you keep what's important in mind, unimportant but highly appealing pieces of story will fall to the side.
1. What is the purpose of the journey?
2. What kind of world is the story set in? What inhabits this world? Are there any natural aspects of this world that set it apart from our own?
3. How is the adventure presented to the adventurer? Is the adventurer willing or unwilling? Why or why not?
4. What motivates the adventurer to take the first step of the journey? Remember that the motivation must be strong enough to carry them through danger and excitement.
5. Go back to your previous answer. This is a cause, the effect being the start of the journey. Jot down three things that could happen during the adventure. Then write down what effects these things will have on the adventurer and the adventure itself.
6. What is one way in which the terrain being journey through can affect the adventure?
7. What is one way in which nature can affect the adventure?
8. What will season the adventure to make it more interesting? -- Romance, treachery, revenge are all examples of seasoning.
It is very easy to stray from the adventure plot,so first and foremost, keep in your mind that the quest is about the person and the adventure is about the journey. Secondly, reference your checklist often as you write. You'll find that the combination of both things at the forefront of your mind help you to distill the story into an essence that is simply irresistible.
What are some of your favorite Action/Adventure authors and books?
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