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Storytelling and Writing Craft > Crafting Action Scenes #2 - Care Factor

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message 1: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Principle #2: Care Factor:

Action works best when the reader has become emotionally invested in the characters.

It is important to note that "emotionally invested" can be positive (like/love) or negative (dislike/hate), and you want to ramp both up.

NOTE #1: Bland villains are only deadly to the story.

If your MC is defeating bland opponents that the reader doesn't care about - you are killing the interest in the story.

So you have to create "Care Factor," for both heroes and villains.

The most useful technique that I have to create care factor is as follows.

[1] Noble purpose

[2] High personal stakes

[3] High overall stakes.

You want at least two of the three elements above to be present.

For example, Ellen Ripley from the movie Aliens has a Noble purpose to save a child (Newt), and High personal stakes, (1) she is personally attached to Newt as her own child died while she was lost in space. Saving Newt has a redemption theme for Ripley, and (2) her own life is very much at risk - she is going to the most dangerous location at the most dangerous time.

For example, Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. Noble purpose is to defeat the tyranny of the empire. High personal stakes are as follows (1) Life at risk, (2) Save Father and Sister and (3) avoid falling to the dark side. High overall stakes - who will rule the Galaxy.


message 2: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11771 comments Graeme, if the story is any good, I think this tends to take care of itself. Obviously for the scene to be meaningful there have to be high stakes for the MC, but equally it has to have meaning for the story, otherwise it is merely gratuitous. So that takes care of the high overall stakes.

I am not convinced about the noble purpose. There has to be purpose, or it has to be there to show character (villain being evil is a purpose but not noble). But it should be meaningful to the story. Again, in my "Dreams Defiled" I have two characters murdered by a surprise attack, and that is easy. The purpose is that it is observed, and while it cannot be proven because the villain has an unbreakable alibi (!!) it starts off a train of revenge. Nothing noble follows that.

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