Thursday, September 30, 2010

Larry Correia: writing action scenes

Larry Correia: Writing Action Scenes
From Book Academy Conference at UVU
My notes

Larry has written Monster Hunters International and this week has released its sequel: Monster Hunter Vendetta.

Find the highlights of an action scene and focus on those, not on every play.
Cut the stuff that readers get bored by. Have writers group say what parts are boring
Avoid the "checklist" . . . Achieve the feel of chaos and anarchy in action, less linear
Leave readers breathless
Know what you're talking about, don't fudge on important details and do your research
Don't think of action sequences as separate from the plot . . . Action should forward plot
Character growth and change should happen in action scenes
Resolve some plot points in action scenes
Flavor the action scenes differently based on who the POV character
A hardened character will show less emotion and more jaded callousness
Work with real biology in characters receiving damage, not "the hit point system"
Keep injuries and expectations plausible with injuries
Don't use "write what you know" as an excuse not to write about interesting things
Most of us haven't fought battles in armor, staked a vampire, killed dragons
Read and study action sequences in books you like
Use a training montage to have junior characters learning how to use magic, martial arts, guns, strategy, etc. See Jim Butcher or Mistborn with Vin
Don't use magic in action as a crutch or deus ex machina
Use microcosm, personal moments of action while also showing big picture action involving many characters or large scale
Action is about potential or kinetic energy or a combo of both
Sometimes you're ramping up action, sometimes you're breaking the tension.


  1. I think I may die of a heartattack. I cannot beleive that Sir-Kirk-A-Lot is posting to our humble blog.

    Love all the mini-points to ponder.

  2. I've always been intimidated about writing action scenes, because I don't think it is something I would do well, but I like his points about character growth and change should happen in those scenes and action should forward the plot. It would be a good exercise for me to try an action scene.

    Thanks for sharing, Kirk-A-Lot.

  3. I'm loving all these points. I especially liked the action scenes in Mistborn. Good reference.

  4. I really like the point about character growth happening in action scenes. I think this was really well done in The Matrix, watching Neo recognize his destiny as he does the impossible.

  5. That's funny, Deb. I was thinking the same thing about the Matrix.

  6. I was at the Book Academy too (It was great!) and wanted to attend Larry's workshop, but Jeff Savage's "Character Bible" class was at the same time. I learned so much in Jeff's class--it was just what I needed. Anyway, I bought Larry's book and will study his action scenes. Thanks so much for sharing your notes with us.

  7. Gussie, Jeff S. Is the bomb. You picked well by going to his part-the-Red-Sea writing bible class.