To write, at any rate. Atmosphere is up to you.

I have a theory based on…not much, to be honest…that a lot of writers stick to, say, college or coffee shop stories or such because writing action scenes scares them. (This is an epidemic in some corners of fandom.) This limits you as a writer and there is no reason for it. You can learn how to write at least tolerable action sequences.

Writing action scenes is intimidating, don’t get me wrong. When you are stuck on one, things grind to halt worse than being stuck on anything else. Editing them is worse.

I am told I am a decent action scene writer. I will take people at their word there. I can tell you what helped me feel more comfortable writing action scenes.

  1. Read action scenes written by others with a critical eye. It’s easy to just flow along with the action, but go back to an old favorite or two and figure out why the action sequences worked.
  2. Write them. You will never get better if you are too scared to try at all. So you wrote a bad scene. It’s not like you had to fight with a typewriter to get it written, or like you had to show it to anyone (though this can be helpful for gauging its actual quality).
  3. Pick a movie with an action sequence that you like and convert it into the written word. Sit down with your laptop and the TV remote and write it as if it were a scene in a book. Feel free to rewind or pause as needed. This is a very helpful exercise because it allows you to learn how to convey in words the feel that you want.

Of all the aspects of writing fiction, I find action sequences to be more of an art than a science. This is saying something, because fiction writing is heavy on the art. Every writer pulls them off a bit differently. Salvatore’s action sequences are very different from Stackpole’s.

Nothing makes you a better writer like practice, though. You want to write that sword-and-sorcery fantasy story but find the sword part difficult to write? Push through, learn, edit, and you may surprise yourself. Letting fear rule never got anyone anywhere worth going.

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