June 22, 2012

How To Write Action

Every writer has tips that help them write, rules they follow, and methods they use. Below are ten tips that I find helpful when I am writing action.

1. Show action and reaction.

In a fight, every movement from one person causes a reaction with their opponent. What happens when someone receives a punch? His/her head turns with the impact, he/she staggers, and sometimes he/she falls. Bones breaking and blood gushing is also a reaction.

Examples of action-reaction:

•     He shot off a round of bullets. She dodged them and fired back.
•     Her fist connected with his face, breaking his nose.

2. Describe, describe, describe!

Remember that prose we were talking about? Use it here, but go above and beyond. Give a crime scene details so that the reader can see the morbid site imprinted on their eyes. Describe each step of a fight, the cocking of a gun, and the pain a character feels from injuries. Bring a car accident to life with speed, bending metal, and shattering glass. Let your words make the suspense. (But keep the tone of your story in mind. If you don't use much detail in the rest of your book, only add a little more detail during the action scenes to give your readers a clear image of what is happening.)

3. Use action verbs!

If you can, try not to use the same verbs over and over again. A thesaurus can help you to find a good alternative.

 My favorite action verbs:     

· Bombard
· Explode
· Hammer
· Thrust
· Assault
· Slither
· Growl
· Mangle
· Vanish
· Pummel

4. Write short sentences. Short sentences quicken the reader’s pace and gives the illusion of fast action.

5. Use “All of a sudden” and “Suddenly” sparingly. Back-to-back paragraphs starting with this will become annoying to the reader and is a bit lazy.
6. Don’t forget dialogue.

Action is not all about what a character does, but also what a character says. Have your characters spit threats back and forth, and let them curse. Also, injecting a character's thoughts can add a great deal of suspense.

This is it, he thought, I’m going to die.

7. Read books by your favorite authors and study how they write action. Note words and phrases they use, but don’t plagiarize!

8. Get into the mood for writing action. Listen to rock music or any kind of song with a fast beat that makes you want to get up and cause havoc.

Songs that help me write action:

* Shoot It Out by 10 Years
* Your Betrayal by Bullet For My Valentine
* Hold On by All That Remains
* Blood On My Hands by The Used
* I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin

9. Act it out.

Remember when I said that I sometimes talk out loud to create dialogue between two of my characters? Well, I also act out fight scenes. Granted, I can’t move or do half the things a fighter can do, but by acting it out (the best I can) I can understand how a body moves and better describe the movement with words.

10. Watch action movies.

Watching movies can help you to understand the rhythm and flow of fighting. It can also give you ideas. Depending on what you need to write, find movies that show a lot of it and then study them. How do the characters move in fight scenes? What do you see when there is an explosion? Now write the scene in your book as if you are watching it unfold on a television screen. This is how I do it, and it is my best strategy for writing action.

Movies that help me write action:

* Underworld Awakening
* Matrix Reloaded
* Fast and the Furious
* The Day After Tomorrow
* UltraViolet

SHARE: Your tips for writing action.


  1. EXCELLENT ADIVCE!!! I am definitely going to use these tips when I need to write action. :) Thanks Chrys!

    1. So sorry I didn't see this comment, Stephanie. I'm glad you liked my tips. :)

  2. wow. thank you. this is very helpful.