Action ideas – Clashes and Stacks.

First of all I formulate a group of action ideas – the clashes that will happen and other problems and hurdles the Good Guys must encounter, not forgetting a few nasty ways the Bad Guys can work them over and/or get the upper hand – then I stack the scenes together in the order that makes sense (THIS because of THIS because of THAT) and throw the conclusion in at the end, which, by the way, would have been one of the action ideas because I never launch into writing a book without that all important conclusion to aim for – and BAM, we have the makings of a book!

That “BAM”, be warned, might take anywhere from weeks to months (or even years), depending on available time and the size and complexity of the story.

Then the work kicks in as the journey is composed, the getting from (or to) action scene A to action scene B to action scene C, etc., down through the line.

Of course, other action scenes pop up along the way, making the whole thing much more fun. Characterization develops, too, adding surprises. Additional characters are brought in as necessary for both background and foreground, adding depth and detail.

Research, naturally, must take place. Someone somewhere is going to specialize. Even if you have mundane characters doing mundane things (ordinary folk in an ordinary story), you want the psychology to be right and you’re going to need variation if you don’t want all your characters to look and sound the same.

Other research is necessary, also, not just where someone specializes. The How, the What, the Who of any area you, as a person, are unfamiliar with must be examined. You can’t just make stuff up about weapons handling, for instance, or factory safety, or emergency procedures for evacuating a hospital (just plucking stuff out of the air here – of these examples, I only wrote about the weapons handling – but you see what I’m saying).

By this stage, a writer wants to know each individual character quite well so that they can step forward and automatically be themselves whenever called upon. This takes some of the effort out of it – you don’t have to THINK about how this or that character will respond, you KNOW. All you have to do is bring them forward and watch it happen.

*

Yes, yes, sometimes that will take you in an unexpected direction. Either go there and see where it leads (I’ve had some staggeringly good results doing this), or, if you insist on them following the plot, change the character who is in that situation to one who responds the way you want. Or change the thing the character is reacting to. I would strongly suggest NOT changing that character’s response, though, or you will be playing/writing him or her falsely against what you have portrayed or plan to portray, and that discrepancy will come across to your readers.

Integrity, folks. The story is about the characters and their adventures, so once you’ve sorted out your characters, they are the mainstay, therefore it’s probably best that you don’t warp them to fit into any subplot. Warp the subplot instead, or bring in someone else.

Around that stage, the whole thing is rolling by itself and the writer just has to keep up and Do That Thing With Words that they are known for.

After that, it’s all perseverance and drinkies.

😀

That’s how I do it, anyway. Anyone want to tell me your methods?

Cheers everyone!  😀

Allyson

6 thoughts on “Action ideas – Clashes and Stacks.

  1. EagleAye

    I like this kind of structure. What I’m missing mostly is structure in my writing. Shorter pieces are no problem. It has a structure that takes me to a goal at the end, but the notion of a novel is still daunting to me, because my stories usually just flow from beginning to end. I need to find way to imagine a series of many events in advance. For me there’s almost always one event and then it’s done. I hope instructions such as yours can help with that.

    Reply
    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Hi EagleAye – Thanks. I found I needed to organize myself as my early writing had no direction. It was almost as if I hoped a suitable ending would pop up, and of course it just doesn’t happen like that. Would it help to think of the list of events in a novel as a series of short stories? That’s in effect what it is.

      Reply
      1. EagleAye

        That’s kind of what I’m thinking. When writing for the Speakeasy, I often have a definite goal (word count, last line of the story), and I’m quite comfortable with meeting that. So perhaps the way to look at it is as a series of goals (by the end of this chapter, so and so has to discover the proton cannon is actually active and barely survive the discovery). Maybe that approach will help me.

        Reply
        1. A.D. Everard Post author

          Sounds a good way to do it. Step at a time instead of seeing one giant leap. I know at the end I always end up with more than I thought I would at the beginning.

  2. writingsprint

    I write action scenes in two ways — lightning strikes, and I have to write as fast as possible to get it down, or they’re very, very — so far, painfully — scripted, the inevitable result of the forces heading against each other. Sometimes I shoot from the hip and then go back and fix the facts later, but lately I’ve been doing more research up-front. Besides authenticity, research usually gives me the ideas I need just to write the scene.

    Reply
    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Yes! I so agree! Me, too. I also agree about style – the lightning strikes and the carefully scripted. I love the lightning strikes, for me that’s often where a character will take off and bring in huge doses of personality and fresh ideas. The carefully scripted is great, too, just for seeing the result. And, yes, research can give you great ideas and detail that enhances the scene or even form it. I love it. 😀

      Reply

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