Creating an Action-Packed Scene in Your Writing!

Hello, everyone! I’m Miss Genevieve, an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. Today, I’ll be sharing some strategies to help you create an action-packed scene. For topics involving exciting events or an element of danger such as going on an adventure or being involved in an accident, this strategy would definitely be useful. Let’s get started, shall we?


Visualising a drowning scene

To begin, let’s visualise the scene. To help you do this, think of what the person is doing or saying. You can even describe his facial expressions and reactions to the situation he finds himself in.

To show you what I mean, let’s imagine that you witnessed your good friend, Timmy, almost drowning at the beach. Picture what Timmy is doing as he’s struggling in the water and list them down.

You may use these questions to help you:

  1. What was Timmy doing with his body?
  2. What did his face look like?
  3. Did he say anything?
  4. What difficulties do you think Timmy would experience in this situation?

Next, list out the details from the visualisation of the scene. Here’s what I have noted down based on the given scenario. If you didn’t manage to come up with at least five details, you may add some of my ideas to your list.

Observations from a drowning scene

  1. Waving his arms
  2. Swallowing sea water
  3. Shouting for help
  4. Had difficulty breathing
  5. Tried to stay afloat
  6. Face turned pale (could be Timmy or main character #2)

Strategy #1: Replace boring action words

Now that we have an outline of what the scene would look like, let’s work on the first strategy.

Did you notice that there are some commonly used verbs on the list? I’ve underlined them here.

Let’s try replacing them with stronger verbs that will convey deeper and richer meaning. Think about how Timmy is moving in the water and what he sounds like.

  • If you look at point (1), we can replace a common verb like “waving” with a stronger verb like, “thrashing”.
  • Similarly, for point (2), we can replace “swallowing”with “gulping”.
  • For point (3), we can use a verb like “shrieking” tomake Timmy’s tone of voice clear.

Strategy #2: Use the environment

Apart from replacing common verbs, you may wish to think about how the environment will affect your character’s safety and body. Since we are describing a near drowning incident here, we can think about the dangerous surroundings that Timmy was forced to deal with.

For point (4), we can include some descriptive phrases to “show” how the waves prevented Timmy from getting fresh air.

  • For example: fought against the violent currents butthe waves kept pulling him down.

Likewise, for point (5), we can add details of how thecold sea water prevented Timmy from moving.

  • For example: the chilly water made his musclestense up

Strategy #3: Layer it with emotion and thoughts

Lastly, it’s important to connect your character’s experience to the emotions and thoughts of other characters. This will make the scene more entertaining and exciting for your readers. Since you are witnessing your best friend drowning in the story, you can include details of your thoughts and emotions about the experience too.

For point (6), we could add in #2’s response to #1’s struggle in the water. Think about the following:

  • Why was #2 afraid? Maybe his friend was struggling in the treacherous water and bobbing his head up and down. That made him feel scared and helpless.
  • Why was #2 unable to help #1? Perhaps he could not swim.

Now that we’ve expanded on the details in the list, let’s look at putting it all together into a compelling paragraph.

Before he knew it, Timmy was thrashing his arms violently and gulping in sea water. “Help!” Timmy shrieked desperately. He fought against the violent currents but the waves kept pulling him down. Soon, the chilly water made his muscles tense up and he had difficulty staying afloat. My face turned pale as I watched my best friend bobbing his head up and down in the treacherous water. “How am I supposed to help him? I can’t swim!” I contemplated.

Describing the actions clearly in this manner will help to flesh out the scene vividly in the readers’ minds, ensuring that they remain captivated by the story you are writing.

Thank you for watching this video. I hope this was useful and gave you a better idea of how to craft an action- packed scene. For more English and writing tips, be sure to check out our other videos on this YouTube channel. Until next time, bye!

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Ms. Genevieve

Ms. Genevieve has been teaching at tuition centres for six years, specialising in creative writing. She continues to mine fascinating insights from advertising, pop culture, and music to liven up her classrooms. A firm believer that small steps can lead to remarkable results, she is excited to ignite a love for learning with her novel teaching approaches at Lil’ but Mighty.

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