META: Writing Good Action [was: Re: [LNH/ACRA] Onion Lad #8]

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Wed Jun 7 14:04:42 PDT 2006

Tom Russell wrote:
> >   Yes, but he also wrote the original version of the
> > Kalibak vs. Turpin story and that was just awesome.
> The difference is that in Kirby's work, particular THE NEW GODS and the
> character of Orion, is concerned with a warrior, and THE NEW GODS is
> the original is-the-hero-any-better-than-the-villains-he-fights story.
> It's disheartening, then, that Kirby never got to finish it to anyone's
> satisfaction, and that the question remained unanswered.
> --Tom

Don't you hate when you think of something just _after_ you've posted
your response?

One thing that I recall from reading Kirby's FOURTH WORLD (NEW GODS
more than MR. MIRACLE, which, despite occassional cheats, was more
about Mr. Miracle using his brains) is that they're very much _comics_:
the action could only work in a visual medium, and the beautifully
bombastic dialogue in print.  But what makes a good comics story
doesn't necessarily make a good prose story, and this brings me to the
subject of action.

Most of the work on RACC has more emphasis on character, plotting, and
theme than on action, fight scenes, violence, et cetera, and I think
the writing on the group is better for it.  At the same time, endless
interior conflicts can get tedious after a while, and-- especially in
serious work-- long dialogue passages can get overbearing: what I'm
saying, in a round-about way, is that at times action is a necessary

It doesn't have to be.  It's possible to write good, compelling action
scenes that are worth reading in and of themselves, and I think it's
possible to do that in prose.  However, since words merely express
things dead in the heart (I'm paraphrasing that, and I forget who said
it in the first place), prose lacks the immediacy, at times, of the

I ask, not only on behalf of my fellow writers but also for myself
(action scenes never being my strong point), what makes for a good
prose action sequence?

What are some general rules to keep in mind?

Any tricks for keeping the scene logistically clear without losing

Some of us are better at this than others, and some, I'd argue, write
damn fine action.  And so, I implore those worthy ones to help the rest
of us. :-)


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