What makes a great action scene? by Aiki Flinthart

How do you write an exciting fight scene like those in the movies? Bad news…you can’t, because movies are visual.

What you can do is leverage a book’s big advantage: deep POV. Sensory immersion.

Aaannnd now we get to the tricky bit. Because the big fight is actually a war between reality vs fiction. How much of each do you put in? How much action? How much deep POV reaction?

A truly skilled warrior won’t do a lot of thinking. Actions are reflexes and the onslaught of fear emotions are dampened. Boring to read.

To add a complication, most of your readers will have done nothing more violent than yell at someone who cut them off in traffic. For that matter, most writers probably haven’t been in a battle for their lives, either.

So, how do you write what you haven’t lived?

Again, you don’t. Real fights are messy, short, brutal, and mostly mindless. Humans are a chaos of instincts and chemistry. Real fights make no sense. In addition, men and women get into, handle, and react to violence differently.

You need to write something readers can relate to. It’s a juggling act which boils down to two familiar terms: “Immersion” and “the Feels”.

Immersion means knowing exactly which key details are important – even if they aren’t things a normal person would notice. It also means choosing which actions are important, where to keep the reader’s attention directed, and how much internal monologue will work without jarring the reader out of the scene. Once you understand those, it becomes a matter of practice and getting good feedback from beta readers.

The Feels means fulfilling your promise to the reader. Ramping up the tension instead of dissolving it. Then delivering the emotional payoff during, and at the end of, the scene.

To achieve both of those, you need to keep in mind the WHY for the action scene. What is your protagonist trying to achieve? Will she succeed or fail? How is she changed at the end? What emotion do you want to create in the reader?

The aim of the QWC Masterclass in Writing Fight Scenes For Women, is to help authors understand exactly how to keep the reader deep in the fight scene (applicable to male and female characters). With 18 years of martial arts and weapons training, and 11 novels on the shelves, you can leverage off my experience in both areas to get inside your protagonist’s head. Come and find out how it feels to put a wristlock on someone. Or how to escape a strangle hold. Hands on, if you wish.

Then take what you learn and apply it to your own fight scene.

But don’t get distracted by the techniques of fighting. They’re just cool window-dressing for the internal journey. It’s getting the balance right between the action and thought-reaction that’s the mark of a good action-scene writer.

Learn how to perfect the balance between action and reaction with Aiki Flinthart at our workshop on the 11th of May 2019, Writing Fight Scenes for Women: Masterclass.

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