But how do you make that dragon-slaying exciting? I'm assuming that we've all heard our favorite fairy tale retold by a preschooler, and, let me tell you, much of the suspense and excitement is GONE in that version (except for in the mind of the little one).
There are a couple of really great articles on writing action, but so far, "Writing Action Scenes" is the best I've read.
In addition to Mice's (the author's) concerns about description, believability/logistics, and point-of-view, here are a couple of other considerations that I have seen used in excellent action scenes.
And before I get into these, let me admit right off the bat that I am action-deficient. Something about action scenes generally makes me lose my way and get lost. So the considerations below are strategies which seem to keep even the most hopeless action followers in the moment.
And they all boil down to this: To enable the action to move quickly in your action scene, introduce the reader to everything important BEFORE you get to there. Excellent examples of this strategy are found in J.K. Rowling and in Rick Riordan.
- Make sure we know where we are.
Often, in action scenes, the surroundings--what is hidden and what is not, who is where, what props/weapons are at hand, etc.--are very important. It may be too much to take in at once. Many of the best authors either build in a slow scene just prior to the action to allow us to take it all in before it becomes important, or they may gradually show the place throughout the story so that we know what's what when we get there.
- Make sure we know everything important about what we're fighting with.
If that gun only has six bullets, then we need to have seen that problem before the final fight so that after that fifth shot, we all know what's riding on the accuracy of the final try.
- Make sure we know who's fighting and their strengths and limitations.
Come on, we all know what happens when Velma loses her glasses and we all know that Shaggy and Scooby are going to bug out of there when the monster shows. We're always waiting for the dawn in vampire pictures, and everybody knows the guy in the black hat is in for it. When we know either our specific character's weaknesses (Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby) or the weakness of a general class of characters (vampires and cowboys), then it allows us to just focus on the scene and not the justification for the characters' actions because we already know their motivation.