New York Times bestselling romance-fantasy authoress, Angela Knight, writes to sizzle and keep her reader’s captivated. With over fifty books to her name, and still counting, her success results from her action scenes. She aims for high-octane and likable characters. Intrigued by her talent, I wanted to share her thoughts on writing well.
JM WilderBill: Your fight scenes not only show how brave and clever your hero is, but they also invoke emotions from the characters. Do you have a method for weaving characterization into fight scenes?
Angela Knight: The secret is to make the repercussions of failure really high. The viewpoint character needs to be terrified he’s going to lose because someone he loves will pay the price.
Strong emotions are always key to sucking readers in to the story.
JM WilderBill: The love stories for your protagonists and the heroes are spiced with passion. Likewise, the scenes between the protagonist and villain are intense. In what ways are the relationships the protagonist has with the hero and the villain similar and in what ways are they different?
Angela Knight: The heroic couple needs to hate the villain every bit as much as they love each other. And they have to have really good reasons to feel that way. He’s got to have hurt them and the people they care about. And he needs to be seriously scary. We need to have seen him do awful things to people, so we have good reason to fear he’ll do the same to the heroic couple.
JM WilderBill: You have a gift of bringing the reader into the story, establishing the plot, the personalities and the stakes immediately. What are the key ingredients hooking the reader within the first five pages?
Angela Knight: I like to show that he cares about other people — that he’s willing to go out of his way to help someone else. The late Blake Snyder called this the “save the cat” moment — when the hero does something kind or self-sacrificing, or otherwise demonstrates that he is indeed a hero.
JM WilderBill: Your fight scenes are choreographed like a beautiful dance. What are the main ingredients for writing thrilling action scenes?
Angela Knight: Think of fight scenes like a chess game. When a character makes an attack, there are only two options: either it lands, or he misses. He can miss because his opponent blocked it — possibly by parrying it, blocking it, or by ducking behind cover — or by dodging. Then the opponent needs to make his own attack, which either lands or misses.
You build a fight scene move by move that way. I like to go to YouTube and look for fighting techniques. Then I use the ones that are most exciting. I also use the five senses to describe how it feels to fight: the pain, exhaustion, fear. The smell of sweat and blood and gunfire. These sensory details make the reader feel she’s experiencing the fight with the characters. Try to imagine every punch and stinging impact.
JM WilderBill: After a physical moment where your protagonist is confronted by the villain or faces her greatest fears in having a relationship with the hero, the plot arcs with the protagonist changing into a better person. How do you make an action scene that resolves the protagonist’s internal conflict while also resolving her romantic conflicts with the hero?
Angela Knight: That’s always a big challenge. It’s important to know what internal weakness causes the romantic conflict with the hero. That weakness is also at the base of why she believes she (or he) can’t defeat the villain. For example, maybe she suffered abuse as a child that made her fear and distrust men. This fear makes her panic when she confronts the villain. But the hero, as they fall in love, helps her see that she is strong, that she isn’t weak and can defend herself. So when she confronts the villain, she finds courage in the hero’s belief in her. This belief lets her overcome her fear and find the courage to bring the villain down with the hero’s help. (It’s important for BOTH characters in the couple to defeat the villain. Otherwise the one who isn’t involved comes off as weak and not deserving of the happy ever after ending.)
JM WilderBill: Thank you, Angela Knight, for spreading the word on how to make every scene deliver what the reader craves. For a complete list of her available books, and to get to know more about her, visit Angela Knight.