Easy Writer’s Guide to: Writing an Action Scene

Writing an Action Scene

Let’s face it, every great story from “Romeo and Juliet” to “The Three Little Pigs” has at least one action scene in it. Swords, claws, fangs, fists, bloody gore – it’s everywhere. In light of this, it should be safe to assume that any aspiring writer should know the basics of action before attempting to break out of the common mold. Here is some advice on how to pump up an action scene.

Directional Influence:

Most action scenes require some sort of movement, so this is a good place to start. Imagine a list of directions, with every third or fourth step missing. Not very helpful is it? The same concept applies to a writer giving directional influence to a character or object. Once a general movement is given the audience will instantly picture the first direction stated until a second is given. For an example lets use β€œHe slowly shifted his weight to the right of the plank, and ran as fast as his legs could manage.” Most readers will take this to mean that the man in question ran to the right, even though there is nothing in the text that actually states this. If the writer actually meant for the man to run straight, and continues on with the story as if the character had done so, confusion will surely follow. Make sure to attach a direction or a destination to every movement that requires such.

Emotion Tags:

Emotion is a major factor in all decisions humans, and most other creatures make. It’s always a good idea to throw in a few emotional tags to draw the reader into a text, and perhaps help them better understand the character or characters in question. Unless there is a change in emotion, and this includes an increase (or decrease) in intensity, a character’s feelings should not be repeated. It only serves to bog down the scene and will possibly over-stress the emotion, causing it to lose any power it once had over the reader. If there is an increase or decrease in emotion intensity, try to avoid using the same words to describe the emotion, as this will often negate the change.


After a skirmish with the enemy army, most soldiers do not simply head back to their castle and have dinner. Many writers however, will cut off action scenes the moment they end. Fatigue, emotional stress, injuries, the dead wounded, and even the crowd of innocent by standers – whatever the situation is, an aftermath must almost always be taken into effect. Explaining, or displaying how a character, or characters feel after the action is usually a good place to start. Also, remember that experiences tend to layer. Just because a new action or drama is taking place, should not necessarily mean that the character(s) forgot about the previous one.