But that's the way life really is, isn't it? Outside my window, I can hear at least a couple of different kinds of birds, the rumble of a delivery truck going past the house and siren wails in the distance. If I actually got up off my rear and looked outside the window, I'm sure I could add a lot more description of the activity on my street. But, I don't feel like getting up right now. That just seems hard.
I started thinking about all this after I was asked by a writing student how they might make the action scenes in their stories more exciting - less, and this is their word not mine - less lame.
That was a great question and I got kind of excited about it. What does make a good action scene? Well, a strong point of view can help. That can get your reader more invested in what's happening with and to your main character. Of course, showing and not telling is not just an old standby - it can breathe much needed life into a scene. And sensory writing can also be the pretty pink frosting on top of it all.
So, to help make my point clearer for this student, I decided to compose an example.
Sally’s biceps shuddered as she hefted her uncle’s sword above her head. A twinge of regret fluttered through her brain. I knew I should have kept up with my weightlifting regime.
The Gorgon made a snickering sound as it whipped its snake hair at her. Sally wrinkled her nose at the stench of its breath. “You lookin’ at me?” it jeered. “Are you lookin’ at me?”
Sally heaved a sigh of relief as she allowed gravity to pull the weight of the sword down in a slash. But she didn’t even get close to the monster.
“Missed me, missed me! Now you gotta kiss me!” The Gorgon laughed and spun out of the way, the snakes joining in the giggles.
“Okay, that’s it.” Sally gritted her teeth and felt beads of sweat break out on her forehead as she raised the sword again. She pivoted on her left foot, a move she’d perfected in her baton twirling class, and then immediately shifted right before driving the sword square into the Gorgon’s belly.
Sally gazed with satisfaction at the sight of the snakes now looking as wilted as last week’s daisies. A few seconds later the dead Gorgon crumbled to dust.
“Here’s the deal,” Sally said, scattering the Gorgon dust with a push of the toe of her sneaker. “I’m not kissing no snakes.” And with that, she turned to walk away into the sunset, thinking her uncle had a lot of explaining to do.
Like the oil pastel drawing at the top of this post this scene was a lot of fun to write. And it reminded me just why I like teaching so much. It gives me a chance to keep thinking about writing in a fresh way. It reminds me that keeping things fun is important. It reminds me that even though I'm tired and too lazy to get out of my chair, I can still stay in the action.
Here you go, Twig! Get the squeaky ball!
For some additional and way more awesome writing types, you just can't do better than this.