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by Zen
Rated: 13+ · Article · Writing · #2128998
Don't fret, these are much easier than you think, just follow the rules.
This is going to be a really short article, because all you need to do is follow the rules, and there aren’t many of them. I’ll explain why these are necessary as I go along.

1. Use short sentences. Short sentences impart a fast pace, and action sequences want to be hectic. Things happen fast and you don’t have a lot of time to react to them, and a string of short sentences expresses this frenzy by dragging the reader along with you.

2. In every short sentence, you must have a very definite action, reaction or have the character make an on-the-spot decision.

3. Every now and again, throw in a longer sentence to give the reader a chance to catch their breath. If you don’t do this, it will fatigue them. It is useful and appropriate to do two other things at this point, which are covered in the next two rules.

4. Allow the character to appraise the situation every now and again, to take stock of how the situation as a whole has developed. This is particularly important when there is a wider battle going on and not just a fist fight between two people.

5. If there is a wider battle going on, you need to remember that both your character(s) and the reader need to be aware of this. Remind them now and again, to retain the atmosphere that there is in fact a battle going on. Bodies flying/running across the eye-line, rubble cascading down from above, the ground shaking beneath their feet and loud noises like explosions or jets screaming past. This can be accomplished in both short and long sentences.

6. In battles, you really need to focus on the stuff that is immediate to the character. That’s what’s important to them and where their focus would be. Use the longer sentences as moments where the character is catching their breath and taking stock of the overall situation to remind the reader of this and to maintain that atmosphere.

7. Don’t let your character panic. If you find yourself disarmed and on the floor, and look up to see a razor sharp sword swinging down at you, trust me, you won’t panic. You won’t have time to. You won’t even be alarmed. You are flooded with adrenalin though, and you will have time (hopefully) to react, such as twist out of the way or kick their knees and unbalance them, throwing their aim off, maybe toppling them in the process. Either that or throw up your arm as a hail-Mary shield and accept your fate.

8. Avoid at all costs any attempt to enter into descriptive narrative that isn’t necessary. Who cares if the sun comes out in the middle of the damned fight? Nobody. Not unless you are fighting vampires, but then the sun becomes a weapon and part of the battle.

9. Keep the actions/etc. in proper time-line/cause-effect order within sentences. The short sentences might be okay without that, but it's an issue I frequently see with complex and compound sentences. Sentences that break this rule may be grammatically correct, but they aren't good story technique.*

That’s it. Very simple.

* rule courtesy of Northernwrites }
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