Density of ACTION!

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  1. SovereignofAshes (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago


    Thank you for your earlier comment about A Midsummer's Night's Dream and it's high-octane action sequences. My mind was swimming with visions of Oberon in Mad Max-style fight sequences. Or Theseus blowing up elevator shafts like some Die Hard movie. Much chuckling was had.

    You're right. I agree with your stance that not all action needs to be physical or as base as most fiction would have it. A work, especially fantasy, doesn't need fight scenes to be thrilling.

    An example I can call up from my own reader's experience is that of Wuthering Heights, although it's not fantasy per se. It's a thrilling read and there are entire scenes that seem to almost drip with violence, yet nothing more than words are spoken. Lives are trampled, hearts are broken, the coldest of human desires is laid bare. There is no reason for Heathcliff to throw a punch or shoot the simpering Edgar Linton. With a look. With a word. With a calculated behavior, entire lines of a family can be destroyed.

    Please understand, your words are heard and respected. I agree and I know I'm not the only writer here that does as well.

    Honestly, this web serial I'm working on is a huge departure for me. It's the most violent fiction I've ever written. It's completely the opposite of the things I set out to write when I first started. I mostly prefer supernatural/psychological horror with implied violence, which I find far more effective than drudging old sword-fights, fire-fights, or car-chases.

    Sometimes though, it's nice to let the beast out of the cage for a little while. That's what my project is for me.

    With your latest comment, however, although I do agree with it. I also must call attention to the other side of that same coin. You're calling attention to writers who won't budge on a given stance. You're calling out people who don't read enough to broaden their horizons. With an absolutism like that, can't the opposite also be true, within measure?

    Talking about destruction of entire planets without the need for base violence or fight scenes, a good example that I would like to bring up, although some people have conflicting thoughts on it... Is the movie, Melancholia. A prime example of a massive climax, world-ending in fact, that captures more than enough action, with absolutely no fight scenes whatsoever.

    I have stuff on here too! The Vorrgistadt Saga.
  2. LadyAnder (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Dary, the entire conversation pretty much pissed me off as a fantasy writer.

    A cross-genre slice=of-life, some adventure fluff fantasy stories about elves-->
  3. Team Contract (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Wow, I'm real late to this thread!

    I agree with what TanaNari said and also agree that the popularity of Dragon Ball Z is perplexing!! I've heard rumor that one fight scene was almost 2 seasons long. But I digress.

    I write action stories, so I'm going to have some kind of physical conflict in there, but surprisingly it's not a huge amount. I think for a good number of my stories, the resolution isn't even physical.

    The most gratifying climax isn't necessarily about the plot resolution anyway. It's the decision point of the main character's emotional through line. When these line up with a combat scene, it makes it gripping. When they don't the combat becomes skip worthy.

    So whatever you do, just make sure it has #TheFeels to back it up ^_^

  4. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    You know the older I get the more action scenes end up kind of boring me, especially if they go on too long. I end up skimming through them to get to the point. My 'pilot episode" of the Intrepid series took me way too long to write, and some of that was not wanting to even do the battle at the end of the story. The longest pause in working on it was after I got up to the point just before the battle, I stopped writing and didn't work on it for like a year and a half before I spontaneously just went and did it in a fit of pique. The scene ended up being a lot shorter than I even initially anticipated, but I think that's good because otherwise it was going to be a long protracted City wrecking fight that I had originally planned. It would have just gotten tedious and boring. And I think that's what was putting me off so much.

    Big war scenes in particular tend to really wash out details whenever I'm watching them in a movie or reading them in a book. For me big war scenes are usually best if most of the battle is happening kind of in the background while you're following a character or small group of characters who are dealing with their immediate situation trying to get through it.

    I'm not sure if the advice is actually any good and I haven't read your story to be able to really assess it, but I'd say if your series is built upon the action being very tactical and thought focused then you should probably stick with that. However big the battle, focus on the strategy and whatever else you feel your strongest with.

    The longest battle scene I can think of that I did was when I was a kid I did a 10-part comic book series that was just a giant battle that didn't actually finish by the time I got bored and gave up. :P

  5. Walter (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    DBZ's popularity shouldn't be surprising. It is a sports anime in disguise. Those have always sold, will always sell. They made one of those about Go, a game that 90% of the audience doesn't play. It sold fine. There are at least 3 about cooking.

    As long as the core of your idea is protagonist battling people for whom he develops a grudging respect and who he overcomes in time to face the next (stronger and more despicable) foe you are cooking with gas.

    As far as action scenes go, 4 to 5 thousand words has also thus far been pretty much the max for me. I'm not ruling out going longer in the future, but it hasn't happened yet.

  6. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I for one am SICK of this concept. Its one of the base fictions required by most modern publishing. that you raise tension by a certain amount, with a bigger ramp up before dropping into the denouement. This has caused a lot of the long series being nothing but a series of tense events. Its really visible in serials as well. I love Legion of nothing, but ending EVERY SINGLE UPDATE with a new cliffhanger is getting a bit much, especially as the updates have shrunk in size.

    i, for one, am just fine with a story that ramps to a certain level of tension, stays there until the climax, then drops with the solution and denouement. the point behind the rising tension is to get the reader READY. it allows an easy climax and solution, and not raising the tension can make things, well, anti climatic, by not climaxing properly. so you need to write the ending better, wrap up loose threads more, yes, but to me, raising the tension just to make the ending easier is sloppy writing.

  7. Shaeor (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    The action has officially picked up in the latest chapter of Dirge.

    It's really about the ending that I've promised. Thematically as well, this is appropriate. You can see the earliest comments on the site mention scale. And that's been my intention.

    Dirge has always been a little over the top in setting. Space wizards! But, all throughout I've tried, when I can, to make the focus intimate. To set up for the impact of this last bit. As mentioned, action is empty without character cost. It needs weight to resolve meaningfully from the nightmare sequence. Sure, I could've written something smaller scale that deals with the same theme and the same personal issues. But space wizards, man.

    Even though I might still do something non-fantastical. I didn't feel like it would have the same possibilities.

    So now, it's going well. But at this point, I am looking forward to that ending. Closure.

    CHOSEN SHACKLES The screen is running static. Face your shadow.
    DIRGE The light is dying. Hold your breath and go gently.
  8. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    In response to Shaeor's original question: My general bias is that combat happens when neither of the people involved in a disagreement can resolve the situation without it. At the same time, I generally try to be true to the kind of story that I'm telling. As I'm writing a superhero story, it happens more often than it would if I were writing a courtroom drama.

    I'm in the process of editing the third year of Legion for publication now. My memory of writing it was that it was all combat, but it turns out that my memory is wrong. There are several big fight scenes, but each happens for a reason. Also, the main character isn't always fighting during those fight scenes. The battle is going on around him, but he's not necessarily in it. I was somewhat surprised at the variety in those scenes actually. The longest action scene is probably 5000 words, but there are a lot of them as well as plenty of lulls in the action--which are probably the more important parts in terms of adding meaning to the fight scenes.

    Alex: I probably shouldn't respond, but I have a couple thoughts in response to your comment...

    First, my updates are not getting shorter. I've got easy access to my word counts and can prove it with spreadsheets if you care enough. What is true though is that there's less range than there used to be. Typically, my updates in 2010 could range from 560 words to 1400 words. Now they're usually within 900-1000.

    Second, people tell me I do a lot of cliffhangers, but I've never been trying to. All I ever try to do is end on a point that hints where the next section is going. Due to the fact the the current novel is nearing its end, it would almost be harder to find a spot that doesn't feel like a cliffhanger. Also, because I'm putting out 1800-2000 words a week, a 4000 word fight can last for two weeks and turns into at least three cliffhangers. Whereas, if I had time to write 4000 word updates, it would be one episode. Amusingly, in my view, the month and a half prior to these last two weeks was all talking (and moving from one spot to another where new people would talk). If anything, I worried that that period lost any tension the story had.

    If you read the finished product though, I suspect you'll find that the cliffhangers disappear when you can read the next line without waiting 3-4 days.

    That said, the fact that you experience it that way may well indicate I'm doing something wrong.

  9. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Hunh. I was curious as to why I feel that way (length,) and went back to reread some of year one. I think.... your prose reads faster? at least for me. Which is generally a good thing. So thats completely my feelings on the matter.

    as for cliffhangers, definitely understand the concept of finding a non hanger spot can be harder. as for not being cliffy when read as a group, very true, which is part of the , really visible in serials. I meant the comment more as a , state of how serials tend to work, and not a condemnation of LoN specifically. Sorry if that came across as an attack.


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