1. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Writing action?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Magnatolia, Mar 28, 2014.

    Hey guys,

    I struggle a bit with writing action, or maybe my struggle is in my head... What do you think of the following paragraph?

    'A shot rang out. “Hey buddy, we got a couple of uglies coming our way.” Two more shots. “Actually, make that a lot of uglies. Mate, we gotta go now!”'

    or

    'They lurched in their seats as the Ute hit the zombies with full brunt. Zombies flew over the bonnet, and smashed into the ground. Blood streaked the windows, reducing their visibility to almost nothing. Thomas felt something clutch at his shirt and he looked down to see a mangled hand reaching through his window. The zombie that owned the hand was missing half the flesh on his face from the impact but he clung on with fierce determination.'

    Thanks!
     
  2. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Hi, there!

    You're using speech marks in the first paragraph, and none at all in the second. Speech during the course of the action can involve your readers with the characters concerned, whereas a failure of using speech marks sometimes impersonalises us with whosoever is involved. So in terms of character development, you can probably take the first paragraph a lot further.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't see why a healthy combination of the two types of examples can't work.

    Oh, and just for future clarity's sake, when giving an example of text here in the forum, don't wrap the example in additional punctuation marks. I was thrown off at first and about to correct you on your use of quotes until I twigged.
     
  4. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @dbesim Thanks, they're two totally separate paragraphs of the same scene. The first is before the zombie horde appears, and the second is when they get in the car and have no choice but to drive through the zombies. Yeah I agree that speech can help create a connection with the characters.

    @Wreybies Thanks, yeah I try to do a bit of both.

    Curious what you guys think of my actual style of writing when it comes to action?

    Thanks!
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    [​IMG]
    For the sake of forum function and clarity in purpose, perhaps you might post an example of your work in the Writing Workshop, assuming you have met the requirements, where the request for such an opinion from the membership is more appropriate. This area of the forum really isn't the place for it.
     
  6. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Hi Wreybies, he can use a combination of the two, but there are some narratives that detail a story without using any dialogue whatsoever (or very minimal dialogue). An example of detailing the action in prose only, involves paragraph 2, but my point is that including more dialogue in the story always enhances our understanding of that character.
     
  7. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Hi magnatolia, I see you said they're different parts of the same story! Do post in the Writing Workshop, it would give forum members something to chew on!
     
  8. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    What I find with action is that the best action-writing has a rhythm to it. I actually prefer the second paragraph as it has more pace, while the first paragraph feels more contrived. But that's just me. I don't mind long chunks of narrative as long as they are not repetitive and keeps the scene going, ramping up the tension. The best action writers do this and rather bail out by breaking it up with speech, they keep the reader page-turning, because the suspense is building just nicely.
     
  9. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    I always encourage writing to contain a sufficient amount of dialogue, because it instantly draws a reader's attention, and long scenes of narration without any characterisation can get very gruelling, and put-downable, because you're constantly wondering where it is the author is leading the story.

    However, magnatolia has attached an extract of her work within another thread on this site, and it does contain a lot of dialogue. This certainly helps in keeping her story animated, rather than boring, and I do tend to want to put a creative writing story down if it fails to show any characterisation.
     
  10. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I like the first paragraph; it is terse and still manages to convey a lot of information. The terseness also helps to set the mood, as if the situation is so urgent that there isn't enough time for complete sentences.

    The second was flabbier, in my reading. Trim it down, that's what I say.
     
  11. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Characterisation through speech is something I encourage too, it's a great writing skill and much better than telling the reader about the character. But I would argue that like any writing skill, there's a place for it.
    If the action scene is at the start of story then there's a case for speech as we don't know anything about the characters or why they are there. But anywhere else, I would argue, an action scene is one place where speech is only necessary if it moves that action along. Action scenes don't really require characterisation as you would hope the writer has created the character sufficiently before. I point at those writers who write great paragraphs of action-prose without using speech and keep us turning that page, and sometimes tortuously so.
     
  12. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    But I'd also agree, that the second paragraph needs to be cut right down too!
     
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  13. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Thanks guys, I'll keep that in mind about cutting down the second paragraph. I was looking to detail the carnage of driving through a group of zombies. There is dialogue around that second paragraph. There's a section once they get to the car, and hte engine won't start so there's some tense conversation while Thomas is picking off the odd zombie here and there. And a little bit of dialogue once the nerves settle down and they're far enough away.

    @Wreybies I'm a little confused. This doesn't really fit into any of the categories in the Writing Workshop. They're mainly for short story, novella, nonfiction, novel etc. But there nothing that relates to the different aspects of writing - action, theme, dialogue etc..
     

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