1. Dazen

    Dazen Active Member

    Oct 27, 2013
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    Action Combat: Action Sequences

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Dazen, Nov 18, 2013.

    This could come under many of the development categories on the forum, but I felt like this category encompasses every aspect of the action sequences in question.
    I know there is an almost identical thread about action sequences here: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/writing-combat-personal-and-beyond.128795/ but having another post dedicated to certain parts of an event with combat in would benefit the community, myself included.

    Firstly, how do you, personally, go about constructing an action sequences? (Whether the scene is purely action to forward the plot or whether it is there to convey some sort of emotion, etc.)
    Secondly, and definitely a very valuable point, what is your attitude towards fight scenes in fantasy novels that you read? (Whether or not you enjoy reading them.)
    Thirdly, if you write them, how long do they tend to be, and in how much description do you like to show the character(s)' movements? (OF COURSE, IT VARIES, BUT JUST AS A GENERAL FIGURE IF POSSIBLE.)
    Lastly, do you prefer an external overview of the action, from an omniscient perspective where you show the events unfolding from an almost god-like perspective, or do you take more pleasure from reading/writing from a very narrow point of view, such as being from the character's vision, which can allow for more detail?

    Thank you for reading :)

    P.S: feel free to ignore the poll.
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    El Tembloroso Caribe
    1. Like any other scene in the story. I look for what matters in the tell and I tell that bit, be it the action itself, how the person participating experiences the action, what it makes him/her think or feel, etc. I pick the part that matters and describe that.

    2. I neither like nor dislike them. I like them when they are well told and have purpose. I dislike them when they are over-told, poorly told, or meaninglessly told.

    3. Don't give me pages of blow-by-blow fighting. I will flip forward to where it ends, read a few words back to see who wins, and continue forward. If I missed anything important and get confused later, I will likely not read the rest of the story.

    Lastly - Refer back to my answer from #1. ;)
    Dazen likes this.
  3. T.Trian

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Supporter Contributor

    Mar 12, 2013
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    Mushroom Land
    1. Depends on the scene, but I pretty much have to agree with Wrey: focus on what matters. Usually it's a mix of physical, emotional, and psychological stuff.

    2. I like action sequences that are done well, i.e. realistically. Note, that doesn't mean it requires a lot of details or lots of gore, neither is necessary: Tolkien was pretty good at writing action sequences that don't have much details / description of actual techniques being used but still managed to create a sense of realism. All too often authors try to be badass and hardcore even when they don't understand fighting / combat, and end up with a ridiculous and unrealistic scene that comes off very amateurish. I don't mind it if an author doesn't know much about fighting and leaves out the details but I may put the book down if the author has tried to bullshit their way through the scene and failed (as they usually do). Lucky for them, often even agents / publishers can't tell the difference between a good and a laughable action scene.
    I love sword fights if the author knows his / her fencing. It's just unfortunate that around 99% of all sword scenes I've read have been unrealistic crap. Then again, few people train fencing (and even fewer realistically), so it's not a surprise as such, just regrettable. The most common pitfall seems to be overly complicated coreographies, even among authors like Joe Abercrombie, who's usually pretty good when it comes to action sequences.

    3. I've written a one-punch KO from a sucker punch the character just didn't see coming and I've written a group of LEOs caught up in a massive riot that spans several pages (or was it even chapters? Can't remember, but it was long). Generally, though, I favor shorter sequences because I always aim for realism and according to statistics, the average street fight lasts around 3 seconds. Unless I'm writing an actual combat sport scene, like a boxing bout, the fights tend to be short, abrupt, and brutal (even the individual scuffles within a longer sequence, like the riot, or a battle between armies), and I steer clear from long, fancy, flashy coreographies because that shit just doesn't happen in real life, no matter what the platform is (empty hands, guns, swords etc), at least if the participants are really trying to hurt one another.

    4. Depends on the scene. Sometimes something like the aforementioned huge riot scene benefits from the occasional bird's eye view, but usually I filter the action through a character because then I can use the intense emotions etc. to spice up the scene. Smaller scale scenes, like a 1-vs-1 bar brawl, tend to work better from a narrower PoV, but I guess you can make anything work if you do it well. Use whatever makes the scene feel more realistic, more intense, whatever raises the reader's pulse and gets their adrenaline flowing.
    To me, the most important thing is to evoke feelings in the reader, make them feel like they're in the situation themselves.
    Wreybies, Dazen and KaTrian like this.

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