Mailbag: Suggestions for writing action scenes

I recently received this email from fellow Michigan writer, Jaclyn E. Dunlop. She had a very good question:

Jaclyn’s Email:
Hey. Do you have any suggestions on how to write a combat scene? …My main character is fighting a dragon to prove her worth, and I’m not sure how to go about it.

C.K.’s Response:
The best advice I’ve been given for action & combat scenes is to use short, punctuated sentences. Combat/action scenes can be very difficult for readers to follow otherwise.

Here’s a bad example:
She swung her sword overhead, shielding against the fiery blaze of the dragon’s breath, then ducked out of the way of his massive, swinging tail, just narrowly missing its heavy thrash.

I’d rewrite the sentence above as:
She swung her sword overhead, shielding against the fiery blaze. The dragon swung its massive tail. She ducked, narrowly missing its heavy thrash. 

Short, verb-oriented sentences and definitely active over passive voice (e.g. Instead of ‘she was pierced by the dagger,’ we want ‘the dagger pierced her’). Those would be my suggestions! Good luck!


So, there you have it! Do you have a writing question? Write me via the contact form!

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