1. DanielCross
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    DanielCross Member

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    Action sequences

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DanielCross, May 31, 2010.

    Hey everyone,

    As a writer I dread writing action (namely fighting) sequences. I tend to be terribly stingy with words. I have a Hemingwayish style that goes:

    Desmond got punched in the face. He fell over.

    I wonder what people like most about action sequences. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You might want to look for other threads on this topic. There have been many of them here under General Writing.
     
  3. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that fight scenes are one of the most entertaining and interesting things to right. You have to get into the mind of the character who's getting smacked about a bit. I don't mean to start writing in first person, but pick one of them and describe events from their own perspective; what would they pay attention to? How would they react? How would they move, and what would they do?

    Chances are that in the heat of a punch-up you're not going to pay attention to what your opponent is doing, just where his fists are going. And not everyone moves with grace and style - or gets an opportunity to come up with a smart remark whilst they're being punched in the face.

    If you get into the character's mind, then you'll easily get the basics down easily, and can then add extra detal if it's necessary (which it probably isn't).
     
  4. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well I suppose it depends on the genre of the writing. I can see the thriftier and direct version working well in some, while let us a fantasy might require a bit more length and description.
     
  5. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I always think the most effective action scenes use fairly simple sentences to paint a clear picture of the action. When a writer tries to get too complex about the action it begins to muddy what is supposed to be happening.
     
  6. thechurchofdave
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    thechurchofdave New Member

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    An animator would act it out in order to figure out how to express it in drawings. If it were me, I would act it out. Maybe video tape myself doing so and then step by step find creative ways to describe each move which is then executed within the conflict you are trying to describe.

    I would probably describe a clinical, literal sense first draft of the sequence and then go back and start looking for ways to color the wordage's into a flavor which then fits the style of the story being written.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Keep pacing in mind. Action sequences are usually meant to be fast-paced, and detailed description can destroy that.

    Consider focusing on the confusion, the spinning emotions, and the desperation of a fight. Some blows may land without having been seen coming. A character in the fight may not even know who struck her. bullets may fly past without a character ever seeing a gun.

    Try painting the scene as an abstract with a few bold brush strokes instead of photographic detail.
     
  8. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    I try going for a third person standpoint if the rest of the story is being written from that perspective (in varying degrees).

    Considering I've never been in a fight myself, writing certain reactions and such only comes from either logic or pulled from memory references of visual fights I've seen in the anime I watch.

    It also may help to refine your style. Action sequences, from what I've observed and tried myself, seem to work better if you write in such a way that the words move with the actions being described. It works best in third person. So, with your example sentence, a way to make the words flow with the actions could be:

    Desmond felt a strong force suddenly strike his chest. The strength from the unknown source caused the startled man to collapse bewilderdly onto the hard concrete below.

    Or something like that.

    Just experiment! Watch fights from visual sources like movies and such and take note of what's happening from your third person perspective and then try imagining how the same sequence you just watched might've felt like from one of the participants viewpoints. Or examine the fight from all angles and viewpoints. Whatever helps you get a better grasp on fighting and describing them.

    It may also be handy to get some books or dictionaries or whatever that describe fights and terms, cuz I know there are many different kinds of punches and kicks than just "punch" and "kick".
     
  9. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    When writing a fighting scene, you first need to figure out what type of fight you want to portray. As there are many different kinds.

    Some are as follows:

    Fast Paced: These types of fights are as said, very fast paced. The two fighters barely have time to think about their attacks before following through with them, if at all. These fights are also chaotic and can barely be followed. In these types a fight, a simple blink can make you miss more than half of it.

    Slow Paced: These fights are much slower than the usual kinds. In these kind of fights both fighters usually only throw one punch at a time and barely move anywhere. Often times these fights are used for the purpose of a stamina contest, or to determine honor. Or in some cases, these fights often act as a final to a faster fight, when both fighters are too exhausted to fight anymore. There has been a case or two though when this type of fight is used as a meeting. An example is when the two fighters are trying to size one another up and see how much the other has. In cases like this, the slower fights is merely a way of conversing with their fist.

    Scruffs: Scruffs are often misportrayed. Many believe that scruffs are just wild fights with no sense at all. This isn't true. The true face of a scruff is two people basically wrestling around, no punches, kicks or any other attack is thrown. It's mostly push comes to shove.

    These are just three of the main types of fights, there are many more that have much more detail and expectations behind them. But these three are usually the type portrayed in movies and books.

    Another thing to remember, some believe that fighting is a form of dancing. If you want a good example of where this might apply watch some boxing, or even some martial arts. Instead of watching it with the mind set of fighting, pay attention to the way a person's body moves and such.

    Also, one of the ways I learned to describe a fight was by taking a movie with fighting, or even a show, and playing it in slow motion. By doing so you can see the moves a lot better and soon learn how the opponent could respond to these moves.
     

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