Tag Archives: fanfic

Writing an Action Scene

Last week I was answering interview questions about my story in the integrated short story collection The Life and Times of Chester Lewis and, since I hadn’t looked at it in quite a while, I gave the story a reread. Like most writers (I would imagine), I couldn’t help but think there were places where I could have written more tightly or hooked the reader in more. As writers I don’t think we ever stop editing our stories in our heads, even after they’ve published. I’m a perfectionist in that way, and I don’t think I can ever feel like my writing is perfect. Good, maybe, but perfect, no.

I did concede to myself, however, that I was quite happy with how the main action scene turned out. There are some main points I keep in mind when writing action scenes that I think make a world of difference:

1. Short, sharp sentences pack a punch.

2. But, it is also important to vary sentence length to keep readers engaged, not bored. Short, sharp sentences lose their impact if you don’t vary them with some longer (but not too long) sentences.

3. Get into your character’s head. Think about his or her reactions.

4. Up the stakes. Just when it looks like the character will be triumphant, just when they’ve got the upper hand, turn the tables. Throw the worst case scenario at him or her. Make it seem as though all hope is lost and there is no way out.

If you want to check out my Chester Lewis story and judge my action scene for yourself, The Life and Times of Chester Lewis is actually on special offer today for its launch. You can grab a copy of the ebook for $0.99 (it’s normally $3.99). This is an especially good opportunity to pick up a copy and get started on you fanfic story (if you’re entering). Remember, it’s $2000 for the winner of the competition and it’s open worldwide. What a great opportunity!

Do you have any tips for writing action scenes? What really hooks you in when you’re reading them? Do you have any favourite action scenes from books you’ve read?

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NaNoWriMo – The journey so far

LAST YEAR

Last year I attempted NaNo for the first time. I only got 25k. I managed to finish the novel a few months later and have recently just finished editing.

THIS YEAR

The plan…

This year I had four story ideas I was throwing around, I finally decided on the one I had the most ideas for since I figured it would make it easier to write. I planned it all out, I had an outline, I had character bios, I even knew what I wanted to happen chapter by chapter (I’m a real planner when I write, I like to know what’s going to happen before I start.)

November starts…

I started out slow. Really slow. In the first week I got a total of 3000 words. I had the ideas, I knew what I wanted to happen, I even had the time (since I’m not working at the moment). I just wasn’t feeling motivated. By the end of the week I knew it just wasn’t working and it was a choice between giving up completely or starting something new.

Second attempt…

I thought I might switch to the sequel for my last year’s NaNo, since I already had a few ideas for it and I was already in my characters’ heads from all the editing. I wrote 100 words and realised I needed the month break from that universe I’d promised myself (after all I’d been working on that story non stop for a year already).

Finding the right story…

I thought about the remaining two stories I had on my back up list and decided I didn’t feel the pull for either of them. There was only one thing left I could pursue. What had been my major distraction during that first week? A new book series I’d discovered a few months ago and which I’d just recently finished reading. Every time I didn’t feel motivated on my story I would read fanfic pertaining to this series. I’d written fanfic in the past (as I mentioned in my guest post on Harry Potter for Writers last week), why not try my hand at a new fandom?

Motivation finally…

The first day I started writing my fanfic novel I wrote 7851 words in one day! That’s more than double my word count from the entire week before. I’d found my motivation. The following days I wrote 5k a day. By day 9 I’d surpassed the daily word count goal and kept ahead. I couldn’t believe I was writing so much by the seat of my pants with no real plan and only the vaguest of ideas of where I wanted the story to go. It’s scary in a way, I’ve never written anything this long without a plan before.

Motivation dwindling…

Last week my motivation started dwindling. It was a combination of a couple of reasons. Firstly I hit a spot in my story where I’d written a really climatic scene and found I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to happen next (the downfall of writing with no plan). Secondly morning sickness kicked in. It probably wasn’t the smartest idea planning to get pregnant when NaNo was about to start and I knew morning sickness would kick in sometime in November. I planned to power through. Not so easy when my stomach is churning and I’m feeling tired on top of that and I just want to go to sleep. We’ve also been hit with some really hot days here the past few days, so that’s compounded my lack of motivation. Monday I wrote nothing at all.

Where I am now…

My total word count at the moment is just over 38k, I’m sitting right where I should be for my daily word goal, but have lost the lead I built up earlier. I need to hit 40k by the end of today to keep on track. I’ll have to keep fighting through the morning sickness, fatigue and heat if I want to hit 50k by the end of the week. Wish me luck!

NaNoWriMo this year has been a real rollercoaster ride so far, full of highs and lows. I know in the end I won’t have a publishable novel, since I’m writing a fanfic, but it’s a nice break from the editing I’ve been doing on my original novel. Perhaps I’ll find a fanfic site to post it on.

I hope wherever you are on your NaNo journey you just keep writing. There’s still a week to go, anything could happen! And no matter what our word counts are by the end, whether we get 50k or not, every single word is an accomplishment. Every word makes us better writers (and so will all the editing when we’re finished). Good luck to all my fellow NaNoers as you partake in the final week!