Apr 03 2009
Action sequences and other intense scenes usually need to be fast-paced. Here are a variety of tips to help you pick up the pace.
1. Eliminate unnecessary description. In particular, scenery and atmospherics tend to slow down a scene.
2. Focus on shorter, simpler sentences. Long, flowing sentences with many clauses will probably tranquilize your readers.
3. Cut back on adjectives and adverbs.
4. Stick to what is actually happening. Not what happened ten minutes ago, not what the character thinks is going to happen, etc. Also, please avoid describing the hero’s plan in the scene that he actually carries it out. If you want him to reveal his plan ahead of time, have him do that ahead of time, during a less intense scene.
5. I recommend making your narrator disappear. Narratorial intrusions tend to slow down the story.
6. Keep the conversations as short and tense as possible. This is definitely not the time for chatting. Also, try to avoid using dialog tags like “Gary said.”
7. I recommend limiting the conversations to two (maybe three) characters. Using a smaller cast will help keep the conversation tight. A smaller cast will also reduce the amount of words you use to choreograph the scene. (If there are five characters in a scene, you’ll probably have to use a dialog tag after every line).
8. Please don’t have the POV character start monologuing. What the character is thinking is much less interesting and immediate than what he is doing.
9. Holly Lisle recommends that you pull your camera in close. When you use description and details, try to focus on something microcosmic rather than about the atmosphere or scene as a whole.