Apr 03 2009

How to Pace a Scene More Quickly

Published by at 10:09 am under Pacing,Writing Action,Writing Articles

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.

51 responses so far

51 Responses to “How to Pace a Scene More Quickly”

  1. Davidon 05 Apr 2009 at 1:55 pm

    How do you write a fight scene that makes the narrator disappear with and without a narrator?

  2. B. Macon 05 Apr 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Some narrators are more intrusive than others. For example, the narrators of Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) and Terry Pratchett tend to be so intrusive that it’s almost like they’re a character in the story. That can be very effective, but generally not in action scenes. During an action scene, I’d recommend making the narrator less of a presence. When the narrator has a personality that makes him stand out, that usually slows down the pace. For an action scene, I’d recommend going with something a bit closer to a movie script. John does X, the villain does Y, the setting reacts by doing Z, etc.

  3. Davidon 05 Apr 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I still don’t understand.

  4. B. Macon 06 Apr 2009 at 4:01 am

    Hmm. Perhaps someone else could better explain what I’m trying to say.

  5. Ragged Boyon 06 Apr 2009 at 5:31 am

    He’s saying don’t have the narrator be a person. Just let them tell what happens. I don’t think you have a problem with this, David.

  6. Yogion 09 Apr 2009 at 7:01 am

    Lemony Snicket /was/ a character in the stories. It’s just that when they’re about to mention his name somebody interrupts. 😛

  7. Lunajamniaon 11 Apr 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Yes! I think I actually write action scenes right. One of my little brothers says girls are horrible at writing action scenes.

  8. B. Macon 11 Apr 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Hmm. I think you might be missing a word there, Luna.

  9. Ragged Boyon 11 Apr 2009 at 5:59 pm

    I suspect pace will be one of my toughest issues in writing Showtime. I want a lot of things to happen over the span of 7- 8 issues, so I’ll have to pace it just right. Being a first-time writer, I already know how much editing I’ll have to do.

  10. Lunajamniaon 11 Apr 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I know I am, B.Mac. I’m using my parent’s computer now and their cybersitter thing blocks some (perfectly acceptable) words. I’m not losing any sleep over it though. 😛

  11. Ragged Boyon 11 Apr 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Luna, you never talk to me anymore. How’s you been, love?

  12. Lunajamniaon 13 Apr 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Here’s another example of when I would use ‘lol’. 😀

    I’ve been on Easter Break. I’m fine, thanks, aside from a wonderful stuffy nose and homework to catch up on.

    I got a new story idea, but it isn’t about superheroes. I guess superhero stories aren’t my forte anymore. But I can still post here, right?

    It’s about a girl from the Lsai race. I’ve already written four books (novellas, if I were to be honest, but I want to put three of them together like LOTR to make a novel) about one Lsai man and his adventures/misfortunes through the years but considering that


    I killed him, his son, and his wife off in my last unfinished book attempt, I started another story about a Lsai girl of no relation to him. But the story is set in about the same year he gets killed.

    Anyhow, moving on–how are you guys? How are your stories and comics coming along?

  13. Lunajamniaon 13 Apr 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Oh–B.Mac, the word was ‘girls’. Their cybersitter also blocks out ‘accidentally’ and ‘women’ I think and … well, really words typed every day.

  14. B. Macon 13 Apr 2009 at 6:46 pm

    You can still post stuff unrelated to superheroes here, even though it will not be suffused with superpowered awesomeness. Still, I think we’ve done pretty well for Brett and Holliequ even though they’re working on fantasy novels that aren’t superhero-related… yet! I can still hold out hope for rewrite.

  15. B. Macon 13 Apr 2009 at 6:50 pm

    I’m committing myself to a deadline of having my resumes out the door by Friday and my nonfiction query out the door by Sunday. So far, on the query, all I have left is the table of contents and the sample chapters left to do.

  16. Lunajamniaon 13 Apr 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Well, if someone’s destiny is to save the world or they end up saving it even if they didn’t want to at first, wouldn’t they be a superhero? What exactly is the definition of superhero? Because if it is someone who goes around doing stuff for ‘the greater good’ (or just because they love fighting) and sticking up for people and they end up saving the world or something–then yeah, most of my main characters are like superheroes even if their abilities are common for their race.

    Queries scare me. I’m kind of–note the ‘kind of’–good at stories, I guess (I don’t want to belittle myself or get a big head). But not at pitching-my-book-to-publishers query letters and the like.

  17. B. Macon 14 Apr 2009 at 10:36 am

    I don’t have a good definition of “superhero,” but here are a few common characteristics.

    1. Most superhero stories are set in present-day Earth, or perhaps a futuristic Earth, but almost never the past. In contrast, fantasy stories are set mainly in the medieval era.

    2. Superhero stories, more so than fantasy stories, tend to develop the hero’s ethos in more depth. What’s he fighting for? Why fight? For example, Spiderman lives and dies by the idea that the powerful are responsible to help the weak. “Truth, justice and the American way” was Superman’s mantra until fairly recently. Why does Eragon fight the emperor? Because he’s evil, I suppose.

    3. The climax of almost every superhero story is an epic battle. This is also largely true of fantasy, but usually not mystery or romance.

    4. A superhero typically sets himself apart from the people he’s protecting with a distinctive identity, which usually includes an unusual costume and name. Fantasy heroes may have a title, but they almost never use that in lieu of their original identity.

    5. Superheroes typically have a secret identity. A fantasy protagonist may take on a disguise or a fake name at one point, but it’s very rare for it to be a recurring feature of the character. When a fantasy character has a recurring secret identity, like Zorro or Robin Hood, he’s probably pretty close to a superhero.

    6. I feel that superheroes, on the whole, are more likely to choose to be a hero. It is very rare for a superhero to be chosen by destiny or a prophecy or anything like that. Even when a superhero gets his powers from an accident completely beyond his control, like a radioactive spiderbite, it’s his choice whether he wants to do anything with it.

  18. B. Macon 14 Apr 2009 at 11:57 am

    With regards to queries, Luna… in almost every case, no one is as hard on a good writer as he is. So I understand why you might say you’re “kind of good;” usually I feel like I’m kind of good.

    However, a publisher probably won’t get excited about an author that pitches himself as kind of good. When you write your query, I recommend pitching yourself in terms of “this is why you should think that I’m good and that my book will work.” If your evidence is solid, then they will get interested.

    So, for example, here are a few pieces of evidence that are available to first-time novelists…
    –a dynamite proposal, something exciting and clear. Ideally, it makes the reader ask “why haven’t we done something like this before?”
    –a reasonably popular website. If you have even a few thousand regular readers, that will suggest that your writing has some appeal and marketability.
    –experience in publishing or a professional writing job (writing for a newspaper, a magazine, etc).
    –you’ve been published professionally in another medium… for example, if you were writing a medical thriller, getting published in a medical journal would help.

    Besides poor concepts and queries, I think the main reason that beginning authors get repeatedly rejected by publishers is because they (incorrectly) think that they only need to build an audience once they get published. No!

  19. Lunajamniaon 14 Apr 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Hmmm … see, for my character (who is now dead) named Rinec, he seems like a hero to me even though he doesn’t have a secret identity or capes. At first he was an anti-hero and hired himself out as a mercenary after giving up on finding his parents’ killer. Then he became kind of good and then his first wife was murdered by Sieko or something (forgot the guy’s name), so he killed the guy and blew up a bunch of his bases on the planet.

    He returns home, and six months later Sieko’s son, Eiqner/’the Eiqner’ attacks the Lsai planet to finish what his father started (his dad wanted to kill all the Lsai because of some grudge I will try to explain in the prequel) and for killing his dad and Rinec becomes one of the last Lsai. And then there’s three other books but I don’t want to go into the plots of all of those…

    Anyhow basically he fights whoever the heck he wants to but it ends up being because he doesn’t want innocent kids to die like his families do and he’s rather reluctant the last three because he is so tired of always fighting. But then it ends up that in the last book he finds out it is his destiny (or maybe a family members’) to find the Lsai and become their leader, kill the Eiqner, and rule the galaxy. Only, of course, he dies. So it would have to be his daughter. It’s confusing, but it makes sense at the same time, if you read the stories. Think Riddick from Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick–at first he does it just because he wants to get off the planet and all that, then he ends up doing it because of other reasons, and then he saves Earth after finding out that it was his ‘destiny’ and he chose to follow it.

    … aaaaand I lost where I was going with this.

  20. Lunajamniaon 14 Apr 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Sorry. :/

    It had a point and I forgot what the point was. And I realize after re-reading the post that the entire thing is really confusing.

    So, I guess my question(s) is/are, do you read much, do you have time to read, and would you be willing to read my stories to get a better understanding of what the heck I am talking about?

    Oh, and the other question would be is it possible for me to post links, because I forget if we can or not.

  21. Lunajamniaon 15 Apr 2009 at 9:19 am

    Sorry–I didn’t mean for my long and confusing post to scare away repliers. :/


  22. B. Macon 15 Apr 2009 at 10:14 am

    Luna asked: “So, I guess my question(s) is/are, do you read much, do you have time to read, and would you be willing to read my stories to get a better understanding of what the heck I am talking about?”

    “Do you read much?” I don’t read published fiction as much as I should. I do, however, read about 20,000 words of nonfiction and unpublished material (blogs, manuscripts, online journals and magazines, comic scripts, etc) per week.

    “Do you have time to read?” Sure.

    “Would you be willing to read my stories to get a better understanding of what the heck I’m talking about?” Sure. You can either e-mail it to me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com or I can give you a review forum. I’m not well-versed in the sci-fi market, though.

    “Is it possible for me to post links?” Yes, but if you post more than one then it’ll get held up in our spam queue until I release it. That usually takes less than an hour.

  23. Lunajamniaon 15 Apr 2009 at 10:19 am

    Oooh. Okay, thanks B.Mac. 🙂
    I think I’ll email them to you.
    There are a ton of grammatical errors and stuff (where commas are, all that good stuff) just to forewarn you. And I learned about ‘voice’ of course, from you (a ‘smarter’ character may tend to stay away from contractions) and I didn’t know about that when I wrote the books/stories.

  24. B. Macon 15 Apr 2009 at 10:22 am

    Ok. Before I look at these, could you tell me what your goal is? (Do you hope to get these published someday? Do you have something else in mind for them? Etc).

  25. Lunajamniaon 17 Apr 2009 at 5:01 am

    Oh–I’d like to get them published someday, definitely.

  26. collisionon 18 Apr 2009 at 5:24 pm

    How would you write a scene where a massive battle is going on with as many people, for example an army.

  27. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 18 Apr 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I haven’t written many battle scenes, but I generally show the overall atmosphere and then choose a couple of characters to focus on. Say there was The Great Battle of the Garden Gnome going on, and Alice and Bree were fighting in it. A short scene would go something like this.

    “There was the smell of blood and death emanating around the battlefield. Alice raised her sword and rushed at an orc, swinging hard to put as much force behind the blade as she could. Bree was stood further away with her leather sling and several sharp, heavy rocks ready to throw into the fray”.

    A longer one would be like this:

    “As fires raged on and threw their smoke over the area, the two armies fought in a tug-of-war that would see one becoming supreme and the other being enslaved. Bree picked up a rock with a sharp edge, shoving it into her sling and swinging it around to prepare it for use as a projectile. She let it fly, but it only went a few metres before landing at Alice’s feet. She was currently stuck in battle with a centaur, and though her nose was broken and a huge scar ripped across her face, she had the upper hand.”

    Pretty crappy examples, but I hope you get the idea.

  28. B. Macon 18 Apr 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I’d recommend breaking the battle into smaller chunks with some bits of information interwoven that show how the battle is going elsewhere. For example, if you were writing a book about the battle of the second Death Star, you might cut in between the Imperial flagship, the Rebel flagship, Rebel ground forces and maybe 1-2 low-ranking ships. As the Imperial ships attack, we might pick up some scattered radio messages like “Dammit, it’s those muppets again! Send reinforcements to the shield generator.”

  29. Dinhilionon 22 Apr 2009 at 12:58 am

    Could I have a review forum? This site seem useful and I want to try and work on my writing.

  30. B. Macon 22 Apr 2009 at 5:25 am

    Hi, Dinhilion. I’ve set a review forum up for you here.

  31. Davidon 22 Apr 2009 at 8:15 am

    Hey, B. Mac. Am I right in thinking that there are times you should pace a scene slowly?

  32. B. Macon 22 Apr 2009 at 8:27 am

    You could pace a scene slowly for dramatic or emotional effect, or to give the reader a space to breath after an intense action scene, maybe introducing readers to a new location or character, etc.

    However, it is very rare that a story is paced too quickly. It depends on the audience, but the danger in any slow scene– particularly one at the beginning– is that the publisher’s assistant gets bored. If that happens, rejection is rarely far behind. In contrast, the danger of an opening scene that’s too fast is that it might be a bit hard to follow. It’s easier to clarify an exciting scene than to make a slow scene exciting.

    In particular, scenes that drag at the beginning of a book tend to suggest that the story isn’t going anywhere. If you’re a publisher’s assistant that has two days to reject 99 out of the 100 manuscripts on your desk, you don’t have the time to give each book fifty pages to prove itself. Hell, you don’t even have the time to give them twenty pages. If the book is slow, the publisher’s assistant is just going to pitch it and move on.

  33. Ragged Boyon 22 Apr 2009 at 8:35 am

    A slow start is what nearly killed me at the beginning of this book, Shadow of a Dark Queen I’m reading. It was pretty boring for about the first 40 pages.

  34. Davidon 22 Apr 2009 at 9:52 am

    Ah, right. Thanks, B. Mac. I think I’m doing well with my scenes.

  35. Yogion 30 Apr 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Would it slow down an action scene if the (female) villain flirts with the hero, a la Spiderman/Black Cat or Batman/Catwoman, while fighting?

  36. B. Macon 01 May 2009 at 1:13 am

    I think so. I feel the romantic banter would substantially detract from the seriousness/intensity of the combat.

    Then again, this might just be a personal preference. I’ve never understood the attraction of romantic tension between a hero and villain. I feel that Catwoman’s appearances are generally underwhelming and Poison Ivy’s role in Batman and Robin left a really bad taste in my mouth. By the end of BAR, I was kind of hoping for my own dose of fast-acting poison to make the pain stop.

    If you’re planning on going down this route, I’d recommend making least one of the combatants dishonestly exploit the romantic angle to gain a combat or informational advantage on the other. Otherwise– if you have two characters that are genuinely kind of interested in each other– I think that their fights will be pretty lackluster. I suspect the stakes will be low if they aren’t going for the jugular.

  37. Yogion 01 May 2009 at 2:07 am

    Well, technically speaking, she’s only flirting with him because she’s the bait. She’s sort of an assistant to the Big Bad, and she’s flirting with him just to redirect his thoughts, so that the Big Bad gets to pull off the heist while the hero is busy. She will express her disgust at the hero to the reader, while the hero is somewhat interested with her, and she decides to exploit this.

  38. Davidon 01 May 2009 at 7:04 am

    Bat man and Robin received the worst reviews of the batman film

    and i have to agree they gave the role of batman to a clown i mean come on he cracked jokes and oneliners and sucked they tottaly took batman away from his roots with that film

    now Mr freese was a great villen good motive and such but with batman the way they made him he wasent able to be the best he could be i felt he could have been better if batman was darker

    i hope my rant makes sence lol

  39. Stefan the Exploding Manon 01 May 2009 at 7:13 am

    Yeah, David is spot on. Batman and Robin was the worst Batman movie ever. And Mr. Freeze had terrible, cringe-worthy puns:


  40. Davidon 01 May 2009 at 7:48 am

    i just watched that then i seen the best bit in batman and Robin

    it was the credits hahaha 😛

  41. YoungAuthoron 19 Jan 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I just want some feedback on one of my action scences so if i could get some, that would be great! 🙂

    “Come meet our friends,” said Death Adder. “Don’t be shy.” Aaron and Kane had the feeling that whoever was inside the other car definitely wasn’t a shy type of person. The car door opened to reveal two of the deadliest killers the world had ever seen. Blood Red and Annihilation. Then two figures stepped out of the car, both dressed in similar suits.
    “Speechless?” goaded Death Adder. “There’s no need for introductions for two of them. However, you must be wondering about the younglings. This is Massacre and this is the Executioner. They’re killers in training. Well, enough with the small talk. You must be wondering why we’re here, no? Well, we really don’t approve of you running around and killing our boys. That’s not ok.” With his last comment, Death Adder seemed to get slightly angry.
    “It was him,” said Aaron pointing at Kane. With the villains’ attention on Kane, Aaron began to slowly reach for his alarm button. This would alarm his parents, who were sitting in the Laser Ray, awaiting their children.
    “Don’t try it little boy.” warned Death Adder. “Now fortunately for you, I am in need of your services. So you will come with me. Whether or not you do so willingly is totally up to you.”
    Aaron was stunned by this man’s heap of confidence. He sounded like the type of man that got what he wanted, when he wanted it, and exactly how he wanted it.
    “Well? Are you coming?” he prodded.
    “Not with out a fight you lowlife.” spat Kane. “You piece of shit. Do you actually think we’re going to hand ourselves over to you?”
    “Well, um yeah I kinda do.” said Death Adder, with out a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
    “Well then you got another thing coming asshole.” Retorted Kane. He drew two ruby-red sai’s from his belt of weapons. “I’m ready whenever.” Aaron immediately pressed his alarm button, or so he thought. When he looked down, it was missing.
    “Looking for this?” teased Death Adder. In his hand he held the missing alarm button. “Nice try kiddo. You’re going to have to try a lot harder than that to best me.”
    Kane took this as means to begin the battle. He rushed towards Blood Red, weapons in front of him. He feinted with his left, and tried to stab the villain with his right sai. His attempt failed miserably as Blood Red slapped his attack away and gave him a brutal kick to the chest that sent him flying backwards onto his back.
    “I’m not fighting you,” he said. “They are.” He raised his hand to point towards the two apprentices. Immediately, the Executioner drew a large battle-axe that seemed slightly like a play toy in against his six-foot-five frame. Massacre raised her hand to reveal two loaded wrist rockets. She quickly fired twice, once where Kane was and once where she guessed he would be. An electric shield blocked her second rocket, which would have hit Kane directly in the face.
    “Back off.” Aaron said firmly with one hand behind his back.
    “What are you going to about it?” said the Executioner, his voice reeking of hubris.
    “This” responded Aaron. He pulled his hand out from behind his back to reveal a Master Lighting Bolt. Death Adder could only stare in shock as Aaron released this powerful bolt of pure electricity. It struck Annihilation in the chest, and its repercussions also gave a brutal shock to Blood Red. The two famed killers were brought down on all fours, their bodies convulsing with pain. The two of them were very lucky that Aaron had not been able to charge it for a very long time, or else they would have been ashes. Their protégées began to retaliate fiercely with their weapons in hand. Aaron joined his friend in what was to be a fierce battle. Massacre engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Kane. She put him on the defensive immediately, striking with pace and precision. Her right hook became blurred with her left jab as Kane reeled back in an effort to avoid being struck by his enemy. Meanwhile, the Executioner swung his battle-axe at Aaron’s jugular. Aaron smiled to himself because he had been charging an electric field around his body since the time he threw the Master Lightning Bolt. The field stopped the battle-axe and also gave the Executioner a violent shock that sent him staggering backwards onto his back.
    SMACK!!! Kane received a violent backhand from Massacre that sent him spinning backwards. She capitalized on her small victory by delivering a kick to the back of his head. Kane fell onto his back feeling heavily disoriented. She raised her hand to deliver another punch, but was shocked by Aaron. Aaron had no time to enjoy this triumph as the Executioner began his attack again, this time with his fists. Aaron, who was well versed in the ways of close quarters combat, was no match for the brute strength and speed of the Executioner. He was felled with a couple of blows until he realized that these blows actually didn’t hurt. He had super-strength. He delivered an uppercut that sent the Executioner flying backwards into a wall. Aaron fired a series of small lighting blasts that shocked his adversary.
    “Always watch your back” came a voice from behind him. Aaron felt a strong blunt blow to the back of his head, knocking him unconscious. Death Adder stood over him, shaking his head in a disappointed manner.
    “Pick him up and bring him to the car” he ordered to Executioner. The large boy did as he was told. Kane, however, was keeping up his fight with Massacre. He punched. She dodged. She kicked. He flipped. He stabbed. She twisted away. She threw up a knee. He slapped it down. He tried a left hook. She slipped under it. She connected a right jab. He rolled with the punch. He tried a sweeping kick. She fell only to bounce back up again. Their fight was like an intricate dance that only they knew the steps to. They were two fighters who knew their trade well. Kane finally found an opening when he kicked out her left knee. He pivoted at a rapid pace and delivered a vicious kick to her right side, knocking her down. Her pulled one of his guns only to have it knocked out of his hand by the Executioner. The Executioner had stepped in to save his partner. After Kane kicked her away, he was rushed by Executioner and pinned against the wall. Kane retaliated by bringing his knee up to the crotch of his opponent, who dropped like a stone.
    “Why the dirty move?” asked the heavily entertained Death Adder.
    “It’s a fight. Nothing is dirty.” Kane replied.
    “You little shit!” screamed Executioner. “Your gonna pay for that!”
    “Make me.” Kane said quietly as he leapt away. The executioner came at Kane, yelling at the top of his lungs. He feinted a punch at Kane’s head, making Kane raise his guard. He lashed out a ferocious punch at Kane’s stomach, sending him backwards into some trashcans.
    “That attack would’ve worked on your dad. Oh wait, he’s dead. And so is the rest of your trash family.” said Executioner. Kane flew towards him in a blind rage, punching and kicking in a flurry. A significant number of his blows landed on Executioner. His adversary landed right in front of his boss who looked at both of them with contempt.
    “I can do this all night’’ said Kane cockily.
    “Well I can not,” stated Death Adder. Death Adder appeared behind Kane and knocked him unconscious just as he had Aaron.
    “Take these scum into the car and back to my fortress. Lets get out of here.” The villainous entourage followed their leader as they drove off from the scene.

    Feedback is welcome!

  42. GL.Bon 29 Jan 2012 at 3:10 pm

    For YoungAuthor,
    Not bad! The pacing wasn’t too confusing, and I could understand who was fighting and doing what. I only have a few questions. First, when Aaron is fighting the Executioner, it feels like he either just remembered he had super strength, or he just got it. Both of those are kind of unlikely though. Maybe you could introduce an element as to why he didn’t use it first? When Kane was fighting Massacre towards the end, it seemed a little rushed. I know that the chopped sentences are supposed to contribute to the way the two are evenly matched, but I kept on getting thrown off of the flow. There was also the part, when after Kane kicked Massacre, it says he kicked her away after the narration focused in on Executioner. I think it can be remedied by switching the ‘her’ pronoun for Massacre’s name, it just got me a little confused. Heh, these are just little things that irked me, maybe everybody else gets it though.
    Anyway, I really like it! Good job!

  43. YoungAuthoron 30 Jan 2012 at 7:24 am

    Thanks for the input GL.B!!! i made a note of those errors and i’ll try to fix them ASAP!! there’s another one on my forum so if you could check that one out to that’d be great! thanks

  44. deadmanshandon 28 Apr 2012 at 7:51 pm

    This is a scene from a story I worked on a while ago. Nothing special but I would like to see what you think about the pacing of the action scene since I think it was one of my better action scenes. I’m fairly certain that it could do with some work on the descriptive end. Making some of it a little more compact.

    It was too much. Cave Man rushed me his arm cocked back. Quick but off balance. Fueled by rage. No skill.

    Good enough for the streets but not for me. Not nearly enough.

    My stance came easy. Too much time in the cage. Knees bent, feet shoulder width apart, chin down, and hands up. Textbook. Perfect. His swing was wild – missed me by inches as I slipped it. Caught him flush with an uppercut he never saw coming. The impact shivered through my arm as his teeth clacked together hard. His head snapped backwards like a bobblehead in high winds and out before he ever hit the ground.

    Hyena number one hadn’t made it halfway to us before Cave Man hit the ground. He paused. I didn’t.


    My shin smashed into his thigh like baseball bat made of meat and bone. He crumpled to the ground making some vague animalistic noise. By the time I looked over his friend was on me and swinging. Flailing really. Angry and scared each shot was meant to drop me where I stood and telegraphed a mile out. The bobbing and weaving was instinctive. Every time he missed I made him pay jab by jab. Inch by bloody inch. The first one pulped his nose painting his face red. The second wobbled him and the third sent him tumbling down with his friends.

    For a moment I stopped and let a grin spread across my face. It had been too damn long since I’d felt like this. Victorious. Strong. The cough the doubled me over erased it. Felt like a giant had wrapped his hand around my lungs and squeezed.

    I could barely hear her shout over the roaring in my ears, “Look out!”

    Noise and lights exploded in my skull. Blood and cold beer ran down my face. Falling forward I caught myself against the brick of the alley wall. Breath coming hard I saw hyena number one limping towards me – the neck of the beer bottle still in his hand.

    Stupid. Got careless.

    Pushing off the wall the world swam and spun in a silent dance. A hard swallow bit back the vomit. He saw it too from the vicious smile now stretched across his thin features.

    “Well… are you going to stand there or are you going to fight me?” the words were forced from lips as I tried to steady myself but my legs weren’t cooperating. Felt like jello.

    The hyena grinned and came for me waving the bottleneck back and forth like a knife. Cautiously this time. He’d seen how fast I was. How hard I hit. He’d also seen how hurt I was.

    I barely dodged the first real swipe. A burning line across my chest told me that I hadn’t escaped it completely. He seemed to like that – repeating it with a widening smile. More bleeding lines joined the first one. Lines of liquid heat running down my chest and arms as I waited for an opening. The last one I was going to get.

    But even armed he was an amateur with an amateur’s timing.

    When I saw it – a moment of hestitation before the backswing – I lunged forward and wedged myself against his armpit. Head spinning I forced his arm in front of his throat and wrapped my own around the other side. Locking my hand across my own bicep I forged a triangle of flesh – his and mine – that cut into his neck.

    And the precious supply of blood working through it.
    My world was spinning like I’d been tossed in a washing machine. It tilted, my stomach heaved, and we started that short hard trip to the ground. For the second time tonight I felt the bite of concrete but I didn’t let go. Not untill she started prying at my hands.

    “He’s out. You can let go,” her voice was gentle as she rolled me onto my back – hardly the scream that brought me to the alley that night.

    The sky was black. Stars hidden by clouds promising rain. Street lights glittered brightly in my eyes. She was there too. Shaggy hair casting her face in shadow as her lips moved soundlessly. She seemed fine.

    That was important but I couldn’t say why. Too tired. Maybe I’d remember when I woke up…

  45. deadmanshandon 28 Apr 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Sorry about the formatting. It didn’t look like that when I hit submit.

  46. YoungAuthoron 30 Apr 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Sounds good, i can tell that your character is pretty cocky too.

  47. rick crawfordon 10 Jun 2012 at 3:13 pm

    This article is very helpful. In particular pulling the camera in close and limiting the action scene to a two way conversation. This makes total sense. In a story I am now writing, my hero has one main sidekick. He talks to that character.
    Great article.

  48. Action Scenes « Write Onon 10 Jun 2012 at 3:34 pm

    […] I read an article in Superhero Nation. This is a great site to help the writer polish their craft. I am often able to zip through action […]

  49. Gbuster861on 24 Sep 2013 at 8:05 pm

    First and foremost… administrators… In your “description” atop each page, this one in specific because I am not entirely positive you do it on every one of them, you’re misdirecting with your advice… What I mean by that is in another page “How to write intense fight scenes” you tell said writers to engage in developing their character’s surroundings, make the reader feel what the character is feeling by using his/her senses (feeling, sight, hearing, etc,) make it NOT seem like the fight is happening inside a vacuum where in this page you’re saying developing the surroundings is a waste of time all in saving the reader from having to flip 5 pages to find out what happens at the end… Everyone, I am here to tell you… Having the reader flip 5 or so pages to find out what happens Is. What. Sells. and more importantly it makes the reader want to come back to the book the next day AFTER they have been up until 2 am reading it. I am not published author yet… I have a 4 part series with 2 spin offs that are in the publishing process right now as I am typing this comment. I am NOT here to step on anyone’s toes either, in your page about becoming a writer for this website you state that you would like a review of a page and at first I had no clue what I wanted to do one on until I read the above mentioned page and this one that I am commenting on. I deeply apologize if I made anyone mad with this comment. If anyone is interested I myself need help developing some of my female characters in my above mentioned books.

  50. Elecon 25 Sep 2013 at 2:36 am

    “I am not published author yet…”

    Then what makes you better informed than someone who is? I accept this comment as your opinion, but in order to position me to even remotely believe you, you need some actual evidence.

    “I have a 4 part series with 2 spin offs that are in the publishing process right now as I am typing this comment.”

    Would you care to tell me the specific names of these books, and who they are being published with? Adding to that, what part of the publishing process are you in? I could claim that I’m in the publishing process – I’m writing my second draft.

    “I deeply apologize if I made anyone mad with this comment.”

    I deeply apologize if I made anyone (i.e. you) mad with this comment. I am simply curious at what fuelled your unsourced accusations.

  51. […] a black belt and an Eagle scout answers all your questions about writing realistic fight scenes. 4. How To Pace A Scene More Quickly: If you’ve read any blogs about writing fight scenes, you’ve probably heard the advice of […]

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