Yeah... those are so hard to write.
I'm serious. I could have given an agonized wail when I read through the first draft of my own puny battle scene. I'm a very determined and hard critic of my own writing, so that may have been part of it, but as none of the members of my practice audience (A.K.A my sisters) had their eyes bulging, I decided that I was right.
I had to... re-write. *gulp*
Before I preform that rather nasty job however, I've decided to practice. On what? On my short story. "Shadow People: Part 2" (coming out this Saturday) will have a small action scene. So that will be my guinea pig.
I obviously don't know much about the action aspect of writing, but I will share what I DO know.
1) Make it personal
Give your character something or someone to really fight for. You need to make sure that your character cares about what happens in this battle. He (or she) has to have a goal, and he has to have the chance to fight for it. You also need to make your readers care about the character and the objective he has in mind. If they don't care about either of these things, well... well, then they won't really be on the edge of their seat. So make it personal to both the character and the reader.
2) Make it tense
Obviously. I mean, what's an action scene if you have no tension? Ah, but there's a catch. You have to actually build up the tension. That, my friends, is not an easy thing to do. You cannot simply say "Jay was feeling nervous." You have to give Jay the symptoms of a nervous man. For example:
"Jay shifted slowly from one foot to the other, wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans so that he might grip the dagger tighter. His eyes darted from side to side, taking in his gray, unmoving surroundings. It was so still... so strangely still."
Now I want you to notice something here. I did not just describe Jay's movements did I? I also made sure you knew that he was alone in a dark area. I went into a description of his surroundings, and the atmosphere of his surroundings. This however, is not the whole thing. This is not the one tension building sentence. You have to describe how he got into his present situation. Who is he looking for? Why is he scared of this person?
3) Throw in some hopelessness, despair, and an injury or two
As my sister says "Heartless, cruel Lydia!"
Yeah, she's probably right. I have to be! The story isn't all that exciting if you don't make these things happen. What's a battle or a fight if the character is sure of victory? What's a victory if the character doesn't come out unscathed? I'm afraid you have to be pretty mean to your characters. Before the battle you have the tension. During the battle, you've got to let the characters (and the readers) think that no one they love is going to live through this. Then you get to handicap them! Cut off a leg! Chop off an arm! Take out an eyeball!
"Heartless, cruel Lydia!"
Oh the power.
This is an important aspect though. It adds to the hopefully already sky high tension. It makes the readers have to just take a moment and breathe. This, no matter what they say, is a good thing.
This actually got my thoughts running on my action scene. (You may now pity my characters)
Until next time!