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I hate action sequences

Probably the most praised aspect of my work is the action, which is funny, because I hate writing it.

I don’t hate reading it; I don’t hate it when it’s done. I despise writing it because it’s the most re-written, reformulated, and slaved-upon aspect of my work. This wasn’t always the way of things. I remember being a spry typist of 17, sitting down to pound out action scenes with greasy fingers, and relishing the visceral joy of not being limited by a special effects budget.

In a way, the action scenes were the reason I started writing: it was the mere conversion of those cinematic murder-orgies that swam through my teenage mind into something I could show people. “See? Isn’t the stuff in my brain SO COOL?”

Except… they sucked. Because those vivid murder-orgies don’t convert that well to paper—probably because you can’t just follow every punch with, “and it was totally badass.”

The pornographic attention to detail used to convey—lovingly—the fluid ease with which the hero drives his fist so hard into the bad guy’s head that the skull pops out was, perhaps, bogging the words down; my need to describe an exchange blow-for-blow was, just maybe, overly attentive to footwork and what was happening with the good guy’s hair. The FIFTH jump kick was not as spectacular as the first, even if it was freaking wicked, and happened off the back of a guy blinded by acid.

I do more with action scenes now. They’re an opportunity to learn intimate things about your characters—they’re opportunities to show how your characters behave in an extreme situation. When someone tries to snuff out her life, how does she react? With terror, or outrage, or the belabored sigh of someone who did this last Saturday and just wants to return her fucking Redbox? Action scenes are, in this way, much like sex scenes. The mechanics of what’s happening may be interesting—it had damn well better be interesting—but the scene itself is often about a whole lot more.

I want to get back to the place where action scenes are fun; but for new reasons. Instead of vibrant murder-orgies overloaded in needless, pace-killing detail, I want them to be…

…well, okay, vibrant murder-orgies loaded with succinct, pace-empowering detail.

But also feelings, I guess.

Published inActionStorycraftWriting

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