Writing Action. #RainbowCon Workshop Outline

Note: Outline for one hour workshop on writing action, designed to be an interactive discussion.

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Rainbow Con Workshop: Writing Action

Saturday, 5 PM, Sanibel Room

Stephen del Mar


Opening Thought questions:

  • What is action?
  • How is it different from other narrative elements?
  • Is it more than a fight sequence?

Like the rest of your story, action scenes need to be rooted in the narrative structure.

  • Action needs to be motivated by the plot and move it along.
  • Each action scene should be unique.

Action needs to reveal characterization.

  • Characters need to act in character.
  • How are characters impacted by the action and the outcome?

Action needs to be rooted in the setting.

  • How does the surroundings impact the action?
  • How does the action impact the surroundings?

Some mechanics of Action

  • Pacing is paramount
    • Rhythm of language is important.
      • Shorter sentences.
      • Minimal descriptions. Remember, the reader is your writing partner.
      • Tight dialog.
        • Use speech or thought to reveal action.
        • Keep it as short as possible.
        • Use it to reveal character under pressure.
      • Remember conflict is the heart of Story and Action is all about conflict.
        • What is at risk?
        • What is the payoff?
        • How was the conflict set up? Why are we having this conflict?




  • What do your characters fear will change as a result of the action/conflict?
  • What will really change?
  • How does this move the story forward and lead to character growth/change?


Closing questions

  • As writers, do you have obstacles writing action?
  • As readers, what makes for a compelling action scene? What doesn’t work?
  • Final comments or questions?