Yaay! New chapter – and action scenes

I’ve started work on the second Shield novel. The prologue and Chapter One of Heart Scarab is done, and yaay! for progress…

But equally, it’s got me thinking hard about how to write action scenes so they aren’t all a sequence of breathless ‘and then and then and then…”.

The point of an action scene, it seems to me, is to get the reader inside the PoV character’s head and pull them in so they’re meshed in the tension, and they don’t start breathing again until the scene is over. They should have, in some small measure, a share in the reactions of the PoV character – in this case, Lt Rosamund, Bennet’s second in command.

She’s a capable and experienced Shield warrior, so it isn’t going to be a panicked reaction when the Maess fighter screams overhead (oh, what a cliché! ) and starts firing. She’s been there before. But it’s still a tense and rapid experience. She’s running to herd civilians to safety, and then she’s running from one shattered body to another, trying to find the living and get them out. She’s out of breath and covered in blood, and her head’s singing with the adrenalin rush. She’s in it, right in it, and she has to pull the reader in with her. So, when I revise this, there has to be something of the same urgency in the prose. Short breathless sentences, nothing long winded and elegantly structured. She won’t have time for that. Sounds, smells, sights, touch, taste–all of those have to be involved too. The sound of the laser sabots overhead, the air tasting of fire and brimstone, the smell of blood, the sight of another woman, dead, body curved protectively and uselessly around a child’s, her back an open, bloody mess, the feel of Grant’s spine against he arm as she braces him on the transport while Bennet wraps the remains of Grant’s left hand.  All to be sharp, short, urgent.

I am pants at writing action scenes. I do despair that I’ll ever get it right.

What’s your tip for writing action? What works for you?

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