So you want to put your scene into overdrive? Here’s one way to work on it.
I recently read the opening scene in CJ Lyons’ Nerves of Steel. It’s a fast paced scene that takes the reader along for a bumpy ride.
I wanted to know what made this scene speed along like a comet crossing sky.
I reread the scene, looking at each word very carefully. And it seems to me, the verb choice drives the speed.
CJ Lyons uses action verbs. She doesn’t use uncommon verbs that take a reader out of the story, but she does use specific verbs representing movement.
Here are some of them:
You get the idea, so if you think your scene is slow, why not check the verbs and see if they are fast?
What do you do to make your scene rip?
Thanks for reading . . .
8 thoughts on “Writing: Speeding up a Scene”
It’s more than Verbs, I think – it’s the whole style of writing. Normally you would take care to describe actions and events, fill them with color and emotion. But when you need a fast scene, like a fight or car chase or something, you need to limit that and focus on the action itself.
A focus on the action, good flow, and appropriate wording all work together to make a good fast-paced scene, and I think with only one of two of them things would feel off.
Ben, thanks for commenting and for the advice. I agree that a writer needs to focus on more than one area. For me if a scene is not working well, I like to pick one area at a time to fix. You’re comment is a good reminder to keep working hard until it’s right.
Al Spiers, maybe the best editor ever at Nixon Newspapers, used to say every verb was weaker wearing an “ing”.
I’ve read that too and try not to use too many. Thanks for the insight.
You may want to edit “to many”
Great topic, and one I know I need to work on!
I shoot for short punchy sentences–even single word sentences seem to move the story along faster. Also, I agree that short words carry more impact with a reader than long unfamiliar ones. Everybody can relate to shred, chop and tug!
I like your idea of analyzing a scene that moves quickly. I will try that!
Hi Kirsten, I hope this works for you. I always get motivated to write better when I read something I like.