1. Bowler
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    Bowler New Member

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    Writing action / escape scenes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Bowler, Dec 5, 2009.

    I'm writing a rather long escape scene that follows an action scene. It involves the main characters having captured someone and transporting them back to the safety of their camp. It's difficult to think of how to fill it and make it go. I just keep coming up with "they went there, then they did this, then they went there, etc." can anybody offer some advice as to how to make it more interesting?
     
  2. .daniel
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    .daniel New Member

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    Try and use a lot of imagery instead of "they did this, then did that".

    "They drove down the street at 65 mph, trying to get away from the tailing cars."

    is much better as:

    "The buildings and streets began to blur as they raced down them, swerving frantically to avoid their pursuers."

    Try and create a sense of urgency. It'll make it feel like it is happening in real time.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is called the difference between show and tell.

    The first example is tell. The second is show.

    It is also a good example of the fact that, while tell has its place, show is significantly more evocative. Show paints a more dynamic picture for the reader.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If nothing really happens during the escape/travel, not that much needs to be invested in words providing details.

    If they have to dodge pursuers, someone tries to escape, they miss a plane or wreck their car, then that is where the story should pick up and focus.

    Terry
     
  5. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just buy Ervin's book Flank Hawk and you'll have LOTS of masterful examples of such scenes. In fact, the first third of the book is one unfolding action scene, complete with escapes, character development and plot evolution in simultaneous presentation. It's a veritable "how to" in answer to your question.
     
  6. McDuff
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    McDuff Member

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    You could always go out and kidnap someone and transport them back to your house while racing the police. That might give you some insight...
     
  7. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    The easiest way is to picture the scene in your mind, as if watching it on a film, and describe the scene you are seeing, as a previous poster has mentioned, show rather than tell the reader what is going on, although mcduffs idea has some merit….
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Keep pacing in mind, too. During high action, things are generally moving quickly, so te writing should also. Short sentences move faster. Visual impressions are fleeting, so detailed description doesn't usually fit well.

    Try to keep the feel of BEING there, not watching from the sideline. The adrenaline, the fear, the pumping of the heart. Sudden pain if a blade scores a hit. Confusion and chaos.

    At other moments, there may be a crystal clarity of hyperawareness. Your character is still highly focused on one threat, but it may seem like time is frozen around him. He sees an opening. His opponent has left an opening, your character drives a blade past the enemy's guard and deep into his thigh. The enemy drops his guard as his leg collapses, and your character is able to deal a killing blow.

    If you're transporting someone, it's the opposite of high action. Time drags out interminably. You are watching the prisoner closely, alert to any suspicious movement. He must not escape! You keep changing the way you guard him and move him, to keep him off balance. You watch for any sign that others are trying to ambush you and free him. Maybe you have a companion, and you don't agree on how to safely handle the prisoner. Here, you want the pacing to crawl, and build the tension that something could change, badly, at any moment.
     
  9. Never Master
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    Never Master Member

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    Cogito hit on an excellent point, but there is one more thing to add on to his learned statements.

    In perfecting the pacing, action and overall feel of the scene, you do have to be careful to keep your Character Development consistent as well. I've found in my own work that sometimes in a particularly harried action sequence my character might behave for a moment or two like somebody else. In my quest to make the action as detailed and believable as possible, I was ignoring my character. This served to distance a Mikael a bit from the action and since he was the MC of the short the reader needs him to be close in order for the scene to feel real.

    Don't just list action after action, and even when you do make sure it is consistent with who your character is. For example, if this was a Fantasy story and your character is a skilled swordsman it would be wrong to have him inexplicably wielding a mace around the battlefield smashing heads.

    Short: Don't put your character on the back-burner for the sake of tension or pacing.
     
  10. Destin
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    Destin Senior Member

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    The picturing it in your head thing is definitely a good way to start deciding how the action will go, just make sure you don't get so tied up trying to describe exactly what is in your head that you start telling instead of showing, or holding the reader's hand to the point that he loses interest.
    Even something as simple as:
    Bob grabbed Margaret's left hand and ran north into the building.
    can be confusing and irritating compared to
    Bob grabbed Margaret's hand and ran into the building.
    When writing, it's best to leave the minute details to the reader's imagination. He will make it work in his mind's eye, unless your description is way out to lunch.
     

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