Following Through: How To Write An Engaging Action Scene

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By  · Published on October 30th, 2017

Screenwriting fundamentals impact action as much as choreography.

Conversations around fight scenes are often erroneously diluted down into degrees of badassness, when many more layers of drama influence their effectiveness. How well these action segments implement characterization into their battles and how these battles create small mini-dramas within the larger story arc are as important as effect work or a hero’s moves.

The former elements come from the script. Action screenwriting may not be what most think when imagining a writer (maybe more of an indie darling with a fetish for overwritten dialogue?) but without these storytelling basics, things fall apart into sub-par mash.

Studio Binder looks at the ideas behind creating successful action, keeping audiences engaged beyond the strength of one’s whirling camera or explosive pyrotechnics. John Wick, for instance, made its shoot-outs some of cinema’s best because it incorporated the brutal professionalism of its protagonist into the execution of its tight, stuntman-led action choreography. The story reflected the filmmaking which made both better.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).