Another week and just how much action does a book need?


Well I am finally getting moving on with Fragile Peace. The past week had me thinking how much action does a novel need?

Depending on the type of novel there is a large amount of leeway when it comes to action. I have had a few reviewers tell me that I had too much and others saying I did not have enough. So the balance is important.

In the case of action, genre plays a huge part. What would seem too much for a romance would be too little in military novel. A space tale needs things that a comedy would not. And that is all well and good but what is too much for a fantasy novel and what is too little?

I generally try to put in three action sequences in a novel. Yes I have put in more but i try not to do less. These sequences are what help the novel move along with a solid pace and style. In fantasy we have the luxury of doing both weapons action and magic action. Depending on the type of fantasy you are doing the weapons action can be very different.

Research is the key to getting things right. Writing scenes with a single character fighting lets you focus on style. Does your hero/heroine fight with a sword? A pair of daggers? A staff? Or something other?

I have written mostly sword or staff wielding characters. This comes from some personal experience but mostly from doing my due dilligence and researching. Things like anime, movies, tv shows help in ways you can use. Watching them will let you know how the bodies should move but one thing you need to do is research the weapons you plan on using. Knowing how much a sword ways or what side the edge of a blade has.  It makes fora more believable tale if you make sure that your character is using their weapon correctly. Having a five foot tall thing woman wielding a six foot battle axe might seem like something interesting but it it just is not at all realistic.

Now you might say realistic? This is fantasy, we don’t need no realistic! Well you do. If you want to have more than a handful of people reading your tales, you need to keep things close to realistic.

So if you can’t watch real sword fights there are a lot of resources out there. One of the best in my opinion is the SCA or the society for creative anachronism. This group is a bunch of people recreating and acting out things like sword fights and tournaments. While they are not in most cases using live steel they are doing actual sword fights. By watching them or even participating, you will get an idea how to move and how to write your action.

If you can’t find one of these groups then try going to a local dojo. If you ask them most will allow you to watch the classes. Some might even let ask questions. the more advanced classes will be using weapons like staves or the staff if you don’t know the word.

So make sure your action is believable and make sure you don’t over due it. While a lot of battles can be interesting to a same group, too many will leave you with no place to take your characters. Balance out your action and your development and you will have a very good tale.

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