J.C. Martin’s Oracle came out this week and she’d like to share a little Chopsocky with you!
5 Tips on Writing Actions Scenes: Lessons from Chopsocky
Chopsocky refers to martial arts films made in the 1960s and 1970s. You know, the ones with out-of-sync dubbing, exaggerated sound effects, and all-around cheesiness? Despite their cornball plots, there is no denying that these films can be pretty entertaining.
A writer can learn lots about writing action from watching a classic chopsocky:
1. Keep the action flowing
The choreography for some chopsocky is pretty impressive. When writing action, your sentences should flow as smoothly as the on-screen moves.
Action scenes are fast-paced, so don’t slow them down with flowery words. Simple and short sentences reflect urgency. Use active verbs, e.g. “Bruce punches Jackie,” rather than passive sentences like “Jackie is punched by Bruce.” (Bonus question: in which film did this happen?)
2. Spare the intricacies
The chopsocky hero is capable of amazing (and dubious) feats, but viewers are so engrossed in the action, they barely notice the physical implausibility of one kick knocking three people down.
Someone in a life-or-death situation has adrenaline surging through their veins. The result: increased heart rate, dry mouth, tunnel vision. They won’t notice the colour of the carpet. Their sole focus is survival, so leave out unnecessary details. They only slow the action down.
3. Cut small talk
Chopsocky is often guilty of this: the hero and villain engaged in a civil conversation in between bashing each other’s brains in. This doesn’t happen in real life. Use dialogue only in the preamble. Once the fight is on, dialogue should be restricted to shouts and grunts—and no, we don’t need the hero reciting a running commentary of every move he makes!
4. Avoid one-sided fights
Another sin of chopsocky: the hero takes down twenty goons without a scratch, then struggles against the big boss. Your hero isn’t invincible, and your baddies aren’t shambling idiots. To up the tension, ebb and flow is key.
5. Use layman’s terms
Just because you’ve done your research, or have first-hand martial arts knowledge, doesn’t mean you should bog your scene down with unfamiliar terms. Telling readers your heroine executes a well-timed Monkey Steals the Peach will likely receive blank stares—and yes, it’s a real Ninjitsu technique!
By all means, give a rough description of the moves, but trust your readers to fill in the scene with their rich imagination.
About the Author: J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defence to adults and children.
Find JC: Website, Blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
Purchase Oracle: Amazon US Amazon UK Barnes and Noble
Retro-Zombie is an artist. (He did the cool CassaFire banner above.) Now some of his artwork is available on t-shirts! Is that cool or what? Rock on, Jeremy!
Madeleine Maddocks at Scribble and Edit has a new book out – Ultimate Sacrifice. Congratulations, Madeleine!
Karen Elizabeth Brown has a new book out – Medieval Muse! Congratulations, Karen.
S.A. Larson has an agent! Congratulations, Sheri.
Laura Eno’s book, Demon in the Basement, is on sale right now for 99 cents!
James Garcia’s book, Dance on Fire, is available again after his publisher closed shop and free this weekend at Amazon.
You know Laura Bambrey is an author – but did you know her father is as well? Visit the Daily Dodo to learn more about his book, Atlantis Eternal.
I won an autographed copy of Michael Whelan’s book from Roland at Writing in the Crosshairs! Thanks, Roland – that is just too damn cool.
And at 11:45 last night, I typed the words THE END. The first draft of CassaStorm is complete. And I desperately need a nap because that was way past my bedtime...
Two Odd Questions
First, how long does it take you to compose a blog post? With all the links, it takes me about two hours. Oh, to be able to type faster!
Second, what is the weirdest group you’ve ever seen in concert? I think Primus wins it for me. Saw them open for another band on their Sailing the Seas of Cheese tour. They were good, but odd!
Whoa! So who is ready to Chopsocky? See some new books that interest you? How long does it take you to put together a post? And just what is the oddest band you’ve ever seen?