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Writing Action, My Weak Spot

April 11, 2011

I think there is only one aspect of my writing I don’t have confidence in: action sequences. I’m terrible at them. I mean, downright god-awful, I think. They take me days to trudge through, and then are cleaned up in editing. There. My terrible secret is out. Hi, my name is S.L. Armstrong, and I couldn’t write a sword fight to save my life.

Eventually, if a novel requires action bits, I can squeeze them out. As I said, a lot is fixed through editing. Sword fights, fist fights, brawling, car chases, you name it, I don’t write them well. I have a very hard time visualizing the violence, and if I can’t see it in my head, it makes it almost impossible to get onto paper. I’m not quite sure what it is about action sequences that elude me, because when I read a really well-written sequence, I am completely swept up in it. My heart jumps, my cheeks flush, and I devour each word.

The first instance that comes to mind is, actually, a Lord of the Rings fanfic I read a long time ago that was a horse chase followed by a bunch of arrows flying from atop a fort fence. It was amazing, and I wanted to write like that. I wanted to pull a reader along into the fear, the rush, the triumph when the main character won. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve done that. It’s definitely a weak spot I’m working on, and I need to overcome the shortcoming by the time we begin writing the Egaea books, as those are filled with action. But, for now, my writing choices have been playing to my strengths: intense sensuality and erotica coupled with drama and emotional upheaval.

Lessons In Cowboy has mini action sequences, I suppose. There is a breech birth of a colt that North has to deal with, plus some day-to-day events one experiences on a working ranch, but those are action things I’m very comfortable with from personal experience. It’s not quite the same as a barroom brawl. I’ve never witness or engaged in a sword fight, and so I find the lack of personal exposure difficult to overcome.

But, overcome it I shall! At the moment, I’m incredibly lucky that K. Piet is great at writing action, and she holds my hand through scenes that require it. There’s some awesome action in Alpha’s Pride that she deserves massive kudos for because my brain completely farted on them. 🙂 I hope everyone else enjoys the piece as much as we do, and that the action works, and my goal over the next few years is to train up my action muscle in preparation for the first Sephryn book in 2013.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 11, 2011 3:13 pm

    *smiles* AHA! She has a weakness!

    I’m only joking. If this is your big weakness, then you really don’t have much to worry about. XD I have a bunch of my own shortcomings that I’m trying to work on as I mature as a writer.

    I’m the same with action sequences as you are, in so much as needing to visualize it before I write it. If I can’t picture what they’re doing in my head, it’s impossible for me to write anything down. Luckily with “Alpha’s Pride”, I knew exactly where I was going, so it was much easier to tackle those action bits. Once again, I’m reminded of me and my college RP friend, Ben Vanderveer, when we would spar in my dorm room with rulers to plan out fights in our Role-play games online. I think that’s what gave me my start, so when I’m really in trouble with a fight scene, you can bet I’m standing in front of a mirror with a ruler, pair of scissors, or sharpie in hand, working out the mechanics physically.

    Let’s hear it for kinesthetic learners? XD

    You’ll get better at action over time, though. I’m sure of it. I can’t wait to write the Egaea books, though. They’re going to be spectacular!

    ~K. Piet

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