The Slow Grind of Fast Action

I completed the longest chapter in my story last night, and though it might not seem as much happened, there was quite a lot going on, with the most important being that one can be strangled with toilet bowl water.  It’s kind of hard to face the kids after that happens to you.

But the part, as a whole, has so many little sections–if you call fifteen hundred words little–so many characters that show up, so many things happening at different locations, that once you get into detailing it all, it takes more than a bit of time to write it all out.

Not counting the penultimate chapter I started last night, all the scenes of this third part total 22,540 words.  Checking against my log totals, that means I started working on this section on 7 July, almost two weeks ago.  The last four chapters total 9,247 words; I’ve been working on them since 14 July, almost a week.

And I still have a Part Four to put in the bank.

Action is, to put it bluntly, a pain to write.  Fight scenes, combat, battle between titanic fleets; none of it is easy to “show”.  It is easy to tell, though you might not want to type out all those words, because you’ll find yourself five thousand words into a scene and suddenly find you’re only about a fifth of the way through what you visualize, and you have a good novella of things to show ahead of you.

Some of this comes, I think, from the way action is portrayed in cinema form for a while.  Titanic battles between incredible monstrosities seem to go on for days; smaller battles for hours; even a gun battle between two people seems to drag on a lot longer than it would in real life–though I blame John Woo for that.  Well, not actually blame, though the actor he almost blew up just to get an action sequence might disagree . . .

I ran into a situation when writing the final battle between my main female character and her nemesis in Her Demonic Majesty.  I had originally thought of doing a battle with a lot of magical pyrotechnics flying about as my two witches began throwing down.  This was also NaNo 2011, and I was not only getting towards the end of the book, but the end of the month, and I didn’t want to stretch the sucker into December.

With a couple of self-imposed deadlines ahead, I looked at the scene and thought, “Okay, what would they really do?  Throw fireballs at each other?  Blow things up for the hell of it?”  Naw.  I figured someone would try a sucker punch, then go for the knockout blow.  If they failed, they’d probably get their ass handed to them.

That’s exactly what happened.  Short, sweet, and to the point.  Because what’s the one thing you have to remember when there’s combat and you start blowing up public locations?  Someone’s likely going to give you a bill for damages later.

As much as is happening on screen, there’s so much more being implied.  So much that isn’t seen, but imagined.  For every person who goes down in flame, there are two more who get whacked behind the literary camera.

I blow up a couple of building, so I’m at least keeping my pyro hand in the game . . .