I write this having achieved a huge feat: I finished the last chapter of Darkness, Set Us Free. In the last few chapters, Ashley and I were racing to the end. It’s like when you’re on the home run. On that last push, just a few meters from the base. A surge of energy comes to you, and you know that this is it. You’ve basically made it. You smashed the ball out of the park, and all that’s left is to take it home.
This time though, I was determined to give it my all. I prepped like I was going into battle, and I was.
In the last chapter of Darkness, Set Us Free, it’s all action. Do or die. And I knew that this wasn’t a chapter where I could sit idly on the sidelines and ponder my character’s mental state. I had to dive right in there with her; I had to see what she sees. Think as she thinks. The whole shebang. From 10.30am till 5.30 in the evening I barely took a break. I was there with her, living every moment. Feeling every fear, every emotion. It was the most intense chapter I’ve ever written. And boy, does it show.
For all the trials I went through with my characters, I would say over the length of this book that that has to be the skill I’m most proud of achieving. It took a while to learn it, and I’m sure there’re plenty of learning curves ahead, but I’m confident now, that I can write an action scene along with the best of them. How did I do it?
I’ve got a few tips I can share:
- Have a plan. And then turn the plan on its head. The character thinks they know what’s going to happen, but they can’t plan for every eventuality. Something has to go wrong. Whether it stays wrong, well that’s up to you. You can find a way to get them out, or you can throw them to the dogs. But, if you want the audience on the edge of their seat, if you want nail biting drama, something has to go wrong.
- Shorten your sentences. Divide them. Splice them. And make every word count.
- Use your paragraphs. If there’s something I want emphasized, I start a new paragraph. Sometimes it will only be a word or two. Words look scarier, on their own.
- Hone in on the senses. You don’t need to describe everything in an action scene, because that would take too long. Besides, your character’s a bit busy to be seeing everything anyway. But choose significant details to enhance. The look on someone’s face at a key moment. The sounds they hear. Their sense of touch.
So there you have it.
And what’s next for us, now that this new installment is down on paper? Well, now the editing starts. Ashley has some edits to complete on the last book, The Price of Pandemonium, and I will be diving straight on into the edits of Darkness, Set Us Free. Then, we switch. Writing is a process, and though we’ve climbed one hurdle today, many more remain.