Can Action Scenes Erode Writer’s Block?

(The above scene from ‘Into the Badlands’ is fairly violent.)

This is another post suggestion by Chelsea Ann Owens, but it is one that I’m not sure I fully understand.  It was stated by someone that you can write a battle scene to clear out some writer’s block.  Now, this might not be for everyone because it depends on the author.  One who doesn’t know how or has any interest in fight scenes might get nothing from this advise.  Still, I’ve been thinking about it and I came up with a few reasons why this might be true.

First, I want to point out that I’m talking about writing a fight scene specifically to get the creative juices in and the cobwebs out.  It can be a throwaway scene that you do for a few minutes, part of your story, or an experiment to come back to later.  The point of this post is to discuss how a fight scene can help and not why you should write stories that include them.

  1. You don’t have to add dialogue if you don’t want to.  This can be all description, which forces you to focus on the picture.  As you progress, you may touch on various senses, which opens a mental door to a flowing narrative.  The writer’s block can give you tunnel vision, so this expands your view.  The use of exposition requires not thinking about a single voice of a character, unless first person POV, but the overall event and landscape that is unfolding.
  2. Especially with melee combat, there is a flow that you need to consider.  Every action requires a reaction and changes the next set of moves.  You can’t have a character make a graceful leap over an enemy if the move beforehand was getting stabbed in both legs.  Perhaps a dive to the side or blocking instead, but you’ve limited their agility.  Outside of injuries, not every move can be moved into every other move.  For example, a character delivering high kick puts their upper body away from the enemy, so you can’t easily get to a headbutt.  They either have to lean forward and expose themselves for a brief moment or put something else in-between.  This may be a little too specific for destroying writer’s block, but it helps you connect the details.
  3. You can add dialogue and make it as corny and lame as you want.  That writer’s block may be stopping you from writing anything deep, but you can circumvent that by staying on the surface.  A fight is a fight and banter can define this just as much as the actual action.  Witty banter and rejoinders can be challenging, but standard insults and threats in the middle of a fight are rather simplistic.  In fact, it might come out so bad that you’re laughing and realizing that your usual level of work is better than you give yourself credit for.
  4. Fight scenes can have excitement and give a little adrenaline rush if you really get into the action.  This can help you get a mental and physical boost into diving into your other writing.  Use it as an appetizer or an engine starter for 5 minutes even if you’re going to work on a more passive scene.  After all, the key here isn’t to make something that is great and you’re going to use.  The point of these fight scenes is to get over a creative hump.
  5. Don’t even write the thing down . . . What?  You heard me.  Take a seat, close your eyes, put on some music, or whatever gets you in the mood.  Then, imagine the fight scene unfolding.  Try to pick up on details while it carries you along.  Don’t resist what you see or feel because you’re depending on your subconscious taking the reins.  Once you feel like you can do the writing that you want, open yours eyes and get to work.

Are these ideas helpful?  Maybe.  Fight scenes aren’t for everyone, so this might only appeal to a niche audience.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.  Stepping out of your comfort zone could be another thing that gets rid of your writer’s block.  Worst case scenario, just watch a fight scene on YouTube . . . Like below:

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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19 Responses to Can Action Scenes Erode Writer’s Block?

  1. I’m sure it can help reset the muse. Doesn’t have to be anything you will use or save. David Bowie vs Martha Stewart with giant salamis as weapons. “I’ve got your star man right here, David.” Writing two completely different stories at the same time worked really well for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you handled it well! I wasn’t sure what the precise direction to go with it was, either.
    You might also follow up with more advice on fighting. So many authors (myself included) wouldn’t know about “a character delivering high kick puts their upper body away from the enemy, so you can’t easily get to a headbutt…”
    You may just advise we watch movies with fighting or take a class, but it’s something I hadn’t thought about before you went into so much detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. L. Marie says:

    Love this suggested post! Great tips! I never thought of fight scenes as helping to clear writer’s block, but now I want to try it.

    Like

  4. Renee says:

    Oddly, I do better with dialogue than anything else. Writing action/fight scenes is the hardest part of writing for me.

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    • Dialogue is second for me. I end up having my characters act while talking. Otherwise, I just imagine them standing stiff and talking with a monotone voice.

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      • Renee says:

        The whole thing is usually playing out like a movie in my head, so I just write what I see and hear. Maybe that’s why I have trouble with action scenes. It happens to fast for me to keep up with.

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      • That’s how they appear in my head, but I tend to keep up. It’s also part of the reason why I write in present tense.

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  5. Depending on the author’s preference, you could take the “battle scene” approach with any sort of self-contained scene. Romance authors might build a love scene, detective novelists might have their characters examine a random crime scene. Others might just have their characters go for dinner and have fun their food choices.

    It’s a versatile approach. Thanks for sharing it. .

    Liked by 1 person

    • True. It’s mostly about writing a low effort scene that can flow or not be heavy with essential story elements. Just be creative and maybe even crazy. Action scenes are seen as very basic, which might be why some people see it as a palate cleanser or whatever.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Not sure if it would work for writer’s block either. I guess it may get the vision going again.

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    • It might depend a lot on how much thought and detail you put into it. Honestly, I think breaking down a writer’s block is just to get the creativity flowing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what works for me. Most of the time I break down the scene or scenes that have come before, figure what’s niggling at me, and then try and fix it. If I can get going again, I know I chose the right way.

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