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Action and Variety

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by wordwalker, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Do people find they have a favorite type of action or challenge for a scene?

    I mean, a given point in the story could be about things as different as fighting, building, persuading, maneuvering, or investigating. Of course it's often easy to see which of these a character wants to use next; charge out to stop the bandit raid, ask around the neighborhood that has the rumors of vampire attacks, but what kind of balance do people use?

    --including, of course, how much does a scene start about one and turn into another, or mixes a few?

    The deeper question: do people find themselves gravitating to certain things out of habit, or different balances of writing strengths and weaknesses?

    I find that more and more of my scenes stretch out their "maneuvering" phases, as the characters sneak through territory or worry about being ambushed or do a chase. It's partly for suspense, but I'm starting to think I'm getting reluctant to dig into some of the other types' specifics; maybe there'd be more research if I bit the bullet and worked out how my library was laid out.

    Or it might be related to how the plot is organized; fights are easier to use when I've worked out enough villains (and heroes) so that I can send in one or two of each and still have options to use the loser in and/or replace him. If I'm not as sure of that, I'm reluctant to use filler battles.

    So how do people work out their balance of these types? How much do you try to emphasize one for certain kinds of story, or times you think the mix needs something else? What do you wish you could work in more or less of?
     
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I've never had to give it much thought. My plots, and therefore my scenes, tend to be of a variety between fights, intense emotional dialogue, chase or maneuver, etc.

    One thing I think you may want to look at is where your protagonists go from reaction to action. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your question but it seems to me that if your story is structured well (and there are many different ways to structure) then this shouldn't be much of an issue.

    I usually have multiple POVs as well so that may be a difference. Characters act & react in their own fashions to situations I place them within. Where one character may stand his/her ground, another may flee. As their character arc progress, this to will change along with the story.

    There is a natural progression within character & within the overall tale that, at least for me, keeps me from gravitating to a certain type of scene. If your characters are continually doing the same type of activity, say investigation, perhaps they are not changing as your MC may require for their own growth. If you feel that these scenes are stagnant then they probably are. Look to where your characters begin, have an idea of how you want them to be towards the climax, then connect the two.

    I hope this helps.
     
  3. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    With scenes of action and tension I find I gravitate toward scenes of escape, sneaking and entering, kidnap and MacGyver type scenes. I know why I like MacGyver scenes, the show is great. Escaping and sneaking was the only way I could ever get out of the house without setting of my brother's booby traps, or getting in a head lock. Kidnapping....I have no idea. The concept of kidnapping is a tense scene so maybe that's it.
     
  4. H. Y. Hill

    H. Y. Hill Acolyte

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    It's just personal preference, really. Different author has different styles and they have different stories to tell. I won't worry if you tend to gravitate towards a certain type of scene as long as that scene is essential to your story telling.

    In the end of the day, I find that the overall story arc determines the type of scenes.
     
  5. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    Exactly. Action scenes like car chases and explosions don't belong in a romance novel.
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Why not? And is it OK to have romance in your action novel? It seems like most novels I read have a combination of these things, with the difference being which is predominant and reflects the major plot elements of the work.
     
  7. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    ....good point. I guess it really depends on the story then. Just make sure the scenes fit the context of the story. Like....a romance mixed with a cop-adventure. A car chase is good if it's for a good reason. The antagonist has the hero's girlfriend in the car and he's chasing after her. But if the car chase is just for the heck of a chase or how the chase happens doesn't make any sense, then it either doesn't belong or needs work to fit.
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, I agree. Ever see a movie where a car chased is so silly and contrived you can tell they just threw it in because someone thought "hey, we need a car chase here!" When you force that sort of thing into a story, I think it is obvious it was forced.
     
  9. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    Which pulls reader away from the story, breaking the illusion of reality presented to them. We want to keep the reader's interest all the way to the end, not kick 'em out halfway.
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  10. Well, of course. As I see it, that's part of having a writing style.

    They don't? o__O

    ...Well, now I worry for my new project.
     
  11. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    They could belong, if done right and not thrown in for the sake of action and tension.
     
  12. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Of course romance could have car chases. (As I hear it, half the romances out now are love in the shadow of a serial killer, even just the ones without vampires.)

    A genre might call for some favorite methods, and an author might deliberately choose or be best at some types. (The war story with its battles-- or the one that's mostly written about the waiting between them.) And a good story of any kind would use some variety to play off that.

    What I'm wondering is, have people looked back at their writing and found themselves over- or underusing some types out of habit, or other slips? Either:
    • plotting more/fewer scenes one same way than you want?
    • rushing or dragging out the same parts of scenes' shifts (eg long arguments let down by short fights)?
     
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