1. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2015
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    How do you feel about these type of action sequences in stories?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Ryan Elder, Jul 18, 2015.

    Sorry for not using books in my examples. Since I am an aspiring screenwriter I watch a lot of movies when it comes to fiction.

    When writing an action sequence and how it effects the plot, there are different approaches you can take on which type of action sequence to use. Basically in my opinion, there are four types:

    1. The Opportunity Action Sequence.

    This is the type of action sequence where something happens that gives either the hero or the villain, an opportunity to put a plan in motion. Sometimes the plan is premeditated before the action scene but it has to be successful in order to be considered this type of action scene. Such as in The Dark Knight for example, Bruce Wayne invades the building Lao is held in, in order to deliver him back to Gotham, thus kicking off the rest of the plot as a result of his plan.

    If however, the premeditated plan fails, which drives the rest of the plot, as a result of failing, it's called then this type of action scene in the next category:

    2. The Dirty Rotten Luck Action Sequence

    This type of action scene has something misfortunate and often tragic, come out of it. Whether the hero or villain had a premeditated plan or not, the plan is ruined by something unforeseen, or something that he/she did not count on, happening. An example would be in Breaking Bad season 5, when Walt was hoping that the neo-nazi gang would rescue him from Jesse Pinkman, but his brother in law Hank shows up to his surprise, and the nazis end up murdering him instead.

    Having a villain escape capture, for example, is not enough to put it in this category. Not unless the villain escaping causes him/her to get more pissed off and come back at the hero hard, or vice versa. If the villain was going to come back at the hero anyway, whether or not this action sequence happened or not, then it falls under the No Consequence Action Sequence.

    3. The Character Development Action Sequence

    This is pretty self explanatory as it creates a change in the character, causing him/her have an epiphany and take charge of the situation. The difference between this and the Opportunity Action Sequence, is nothing happens in this action sequence that creates an opportunity. It's a character change, rather than an opportunity opening up in the plot.

    An example of this would be in the original Mad Max. Even though his family is killed, it motivates him into action, but doesn't really effect the plot.

    4. The No Consequence Action Sequence

    This is an action scene where the writers add one cause they think it will add suspenseful flavor but after it's over, everything is still the same, and no consequence has come forth, not in plot development, or in character change.

    And example, would be The Replacement Killers, where there were at least three action sequences, where the characters remained the same after nothing came out of it. Just to add flavor and that's it. These action scenes usually run in the opening as part of the hook, like Goldfinger, or they come and go in the first half of first two thirds mostly such as The Replacment Killers.

    But out of all these action sequence types, are they all good to use, and am I looking at them the right way? Is the 4th kind even worth choosing for a script just for flavor, even though there is no consequence?
  2. AspiringNovelist

    AspiringNovelist Senior Member

    Jul 19, 2015
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    Gulf Coast
    Having to choose, I tend to like option 3 the best. And although it's listed as ACTION, it could be any number of events that are not physical.

    Fried Green Tomatoes for example the tale turns when Bennet attempts to kidnap Buddy. While there is action, it's hidden until the very end. So, this catalyst, is the integral backstory driving the entire plot and you don't know it. Very clever. I also like option 3 because physical action at 10, 20, 30 minutes intervals isn't needed.

    Your Mad Max selection is spot on too.

    The others require a more linear progression in my opinion. Where the reader learns the backstory and characters in a point 'a' to point 'e' series.

    For option 2, a good book equivalent would be McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. Excellent book and much of McCarty's work transfers to script quite well.

    Option 1 and 4 are my least favorite.
  3. Bryan Romer

    Bryan Romer Contributor Contributor

    Jan 26, 2014
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    All them have their place, nor do they have to be mutually exclusive. For instance, no consequence action scene can provide the reason for a subsequent character development action sequence.

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