1. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Too much action?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Scarecrow28, Sep 3, 2008.

    How can you tell if your writing has "too much action"? Keep in mind, I am an action/adventure writer, so its kind of vital to the genre, but I'm wondering if I can have too much. Suprisingly, most reviews I've read of novels that consist of nothing but action (think Matthew Reilly) aren't critisized for amount of action, but the poor prose and lack of good characters.

    So, if 1/3 or so is action, is this bad as long as its evened out with "lull" scenes and the action isn't completely pointless and is actually important to the plot?
     
  2. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    There's nothing wrong with having action in a book, but, depending on your story, there should be a borderline between how much you want and how much is actually needed to tell a story. If you have too much action, your reader can become confused as to what the story is and even bored with repetitive..ness (is that even a word??XD) unless you're somehow conveying the story to the reader at the same time the action occurs.

    In the end, it's completely up to you. Hope I helped.
     
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  3. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    Repetitiveness is a word, don't worry.

    Moving on topic, I think you have too much action when the story and characters take a backseat to it. Imagine the old kung fu movies in which the acting is horrible and the plots moronic. That being said, if you can write an action scene well, then don't let your readers miss out.
     
  4. Kylie
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    Kylie Contributing Member

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    It's hard to say whether or not a story has too much action. I think it really depends on what you do with the parts of the story that aren't action. It also depends on what type of readers you are trying to attract. I think - if you make the "lull" parents necessary to the story (like not forced), it would help. I'm not really an action/adventure reader, but I think 1/3 is fine. Even if your book was all action, it's possible to not have "too much" action. Some action books are "too much action" because the charactars don't even seem to have charactaristics. It also depends on your writing style- how you write and etc.

    Overall, though, I wouldn't worry too much about that. If a story has to be all action, let it be all action. Just make sure what you do is absolutely necessary to the story. If it's not, it may be too much. :cool:
     
  5. DarkMaiden273
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    I agree with this. You need balance. If the action fits the flow of the story or the personality or follows with your character then yes, action is good. But if the action is just there to be there and doesn't necessarily tell a story or doesnt fit a character then less is more. A good author to read for you to get help with this would be R. A. Salvatore. In his books they're mainly centered around battles, fights, and wars, but the story line is good and keeps you interested. Also though he has strong characters, that you enjoy reading about and they are fighters/adventurers so it fits their personalities as well! Hope I helped and didnt confuse you to much. :)
     
  6. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    See that quote. If you adhere to this "The action is not pointless and is important to the plot" then it matters not how much you have of it.
     
  7. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Scarecrow, I think 1/3 is a good amount of action for the kind of book you're talking about. Possibly you can even have more than that. Just give your readers an occasional quiet moment now and then. I love action, but when it's coming non-stop I eventually get emotionally exhausted. As important as the action can be (especially in an action/adventure story) I'm also a fan of good diologue and characterization. If I don't find those in a book or movie I'm not likely to come away satisfide.
     
  8. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Well, I'm on chapter three and around 12,000 words in and around 3/5 or more is action. The action itself isn't necessarily vital to the story, but the larger scene made up by these brief action sequences are. The first bit is also meant to hook the reader, so I'm filling it up with action. After this section, they'll be another 5,000-10,000 words minimum of complete calm before any kind of action resumes, maybe even 20,000 words. Does this sound ok? Keep in mind this is meant to be a thriller/ action & adventure novel, so action is obviously a vital element to the genre.
     
  9. Tobi
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    Tobi Member

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    My first three chapters are pretty much all action, I see no problem with having lots of action but only if it's vital to the plot. The hard bit is figuring out what's vital to the plot, my first chapter had a fair bit of dialogue but I cut it as it wasn't needed, it just held the story up. I don't really think it matters how much action as long as the story progresses.
     
  10. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    Action can be used to say things about the character. Their motivations ought to dictate why they're engaging in these behaviors. Certainly, that's realistic, and it can be boring to read about people doing things seemingly out of nowhere.

    I just read a SF book called Mirrored Heavens which has tons of exciting action but with characters you can't tell the difference between. The author uses symbols at the beginning of each chapter where a new character speaks. He wouldn't need to do that with a little effort.

    So, action is great but with just a little character development and difference between them can do the trick.

    I'd say that an exception could be the "I'm a military grunt story." I say that because the soldier doesn't get to ask where or why he's going to a place, and he may not know why he's killing. He's sort of a tourist in his own life. So, it's all action with the soldier's personality mattering little, or a lot. A soldier story can get away with little character development because he's just doing as he's told and may not have an intenal dialogue going on because of the action.

    Edit:

    I wrote that when tired, and it needed help.

    Fixed.
     
  11. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Exactly, and well put. Action needs to be a part of the plot without overloading it. Some writers, like Dave Weber, tend to put their big action scenes at the climax, some like King have them sprinkled through...me since most of my Fiction is sci fi retelling of WW2 up to current events, have lots of action with the plot still involved.
     

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