Story Writing Tip:
Writing Action Scenes
By Stephen Geez, GeezWriter
Some novels and stories are nearly all action. Others have a few action scenes, or may feature just one at the climax. Your action scenes need to contrast with the rest of your story so readers are caught in the emotion and urgency. Even all-action stories slow at times so readers “catch their breath.” It re-establishes a baseline. Then the escalation has oomph. Use these techniques as you write action scenes:
–SELECT POINT-OF-VIEW (POV): Choose one character’s POV, and stick with it. Avoid breaking action for the scene or chapter break that a change in POV requires. The protagonist (good guy/hero) is the obvious choice. Still, an antagonist (bad guy/villain) or other key character’s POV prevents having to reveal the hero’s strategy. Showing POV at the center of action helps readers feel tension, but an observer might be able to see more. If multiple points of action occur at the same time, the “bigger picture” helps preserve POV.
–PRE-SET THE SCENE: As much as possible, acquaint readers in advance with the setting, props, and characters who will appear. Do not slow or stop action scenes to describe much more than the unfolding plot. Put that gun in the dresser during Act I so she can reach for it in Act III.
–PURGE EXPOSITION: Avoid stopping the story to fill in “expository” info. Action scenes are not the time for background, back-story, and plotless facts. When the wolves attack, do not hit PAUSE to explain wolf-pack behavior. Do not slow an urgent defense to explain why B’kar hates to unsheath his sword. Never stop action to tell us how fast it is all happening.
–USE SOUND EFFECTS: Your prose does not have the luxury of music (yet), but you can add sound. Sound effects add atmosphere. They heighten tension. Watch a movie or TV show and notice how sound effects increase during action. Do not unspool slow sentences describing sound. Show them in italics, maybe with brief labels: Cannons roared! Boom! Boom-boom-boom! “Light it!” Sssss, hissed the fuse. Boom!
–PICK UP THE PACE: Whatever pace your non-action scenes set, increase it dramatically for action. Keep characters in motion.
Make readers feel the quicker tempo and ramped-up emotion. Write shorter paragraphs. Use shorter sentences. If you’re willing, consider fragments: Gasping for breath. Light dimming. Ledge gives way. Keep dialogue short, rapid-fire. Move readers’ eyes quickly down the text. Turn pages faster.
Well-paced action scenes are impossible to stop reading. They engage readers and keep them alert. They add flavor to every kind of story.
Now get yourself moving before it’s too late. Write some action.
Hurry! Grab us!
Fingers to the keys.
Tap tap tap-tap tap!
* * *
A member of Fresh Ink Group, Stephen Geez is the author of many novels, collections, non-fiction, articles, and web postings. Watch for his writing how-to’s at http://www.GeezWriter.com.
Image this: You have the perfect campaign lined up, and are counting the days before you finally start paying off the cost of those ads. Then, you receive an email from Amazon accusing you of copyr…
By Stephen Geez
Many indies have discovered the challenge of preparing files for Ingram, either as publishers using Lightning Source / Ingram Global, or as authors using the Ingram Spark program. Lots of methods can produce fair results, and lots of methods will trigger rejection. I’ve found that when interiors include images, the print quality from the newest POD presses can be superior with proactive file prep, or inferior using some of our old methods.
Below you’ll find a summary of the steps that produce the best results for our member/authors at Fresh Ink Group. These steps are for black-and-white interiors For color interiors, just skip the steps related to grayscaling. The main goal of this method is to fully control the specs of images by replacing the place-holders in the distilled file with processed images using the CMYK standard PDF/X-1a: 2001 with no color profiles in either grayscale (photos and scaled images) or bitmap (line art).
This is bit technical, but if you’re processing files yourself, learning these steps, experimenting to get the best results, discussing options with other file-preparers, and sharing your thoughts with the indie community–especially us here at GeezWriter and Fresh Ink Group–benefits everybody.
Preparing Distilled Interior Files for Ingram
Save Word File as .doc or .docx
Using ACROBAT add-in from top ribbon, save as PDF/A-1a
Open in Acrobat Pro and export as a post script file (I add PS to file name)
Open in Adobe Distiller set to PDF/X-1a: 2001 & save (I add Distiller to file name)
Open PDF in Photoshop. In Import PDF Dialog box above window where it says Select: Pages, Images, 3D; select Images, then Open
Open dialog box showing Image Size (Image Tab) of each and take notes on actual size as used by designer
Close those and OPEN each image again from as close to the original source file available (PSD best, PNG or TIF next, JPG in a pinch)
Process each image:
IMAGE Tab > Image Size change to 300ppi or if line art 600
IMAGE Tab > Image Size change size to dimensions used by designer now in your notes
IMAGE Tab > Mode change to Grayscale or if line art Bitmap
Agree to remove all color and merge
Save-as image, being sure to uncheck ICC color profile and save-layers boxes
Open DISTILLER-labeled PDF in Acrobat Pro, enable editing, and select TOOLS tab, then select Edit PDF
Scroll through and select an image, then click Replace Image in the right column list of tools, navigate to the processed grayscale no-profile image just created and OPEN. Image should replace the one previously there, nearly identical in size, with a very clear (usually superior) image. Repeat for every image in the bookblock.
Save the file from Acrobat using SAVE AS OTHER and select Press Ready 1/Xa
Do not run through distiller or Acrobat Pro again, as the file is now in CMYK 1-Xa:2001 with correctly processed grayscale or bitmap images minus color profiles re-inserted AFTER distillation.
In the absence of Adobe Distiller, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC can be used to distill as long as X-1a: 2001 SWOP is selected.
Make it work for you,
and talk to us!