Blurry silhouettes chase someone down a street at night

Image by Tithi Luadthong on Shutterstock

When you’re writing an exciting fight scene, the last thing you want is prose that makes it feel like a slog. Great action prose is tightly worded, uses active language, and makes events feel vivid and immediate. I’ve previously listed some principles that can help you get these results; now let’s put that into practice by working on some excerpts.

All three excerpts are adapted from the manuscripts of our editing clients, used with their permission and with details such as character names altered. These works are still in progress, so keep that in mind when reading them. In my reworks, I focused on bringing out the action and generally left other aspects of the narration as they were.

Makeover 1: Fixing Time Dilation

Many writers overestimate how many words they can put into a brief story moment. Simply reading text makes it feel like time is passing, and when that text includes character actions, it implies even more time went by. If the story requires that events happen much faster or slower than the actual prose suggests, then you have a time dilation issue.

While this problem can occur anywhere, it’s most likely to happen during dialogue and action scenes. These are both time-sensitive and involve coordinating the responses of multiple characters. It’s easy to make one character bound across the room and do three kicks while the other merely coughed once.

Below is an action excerpt with a lot going for it. It has clear and direct language and establishes tension well. As you read it, look for time dilation.

Sera whipped around; a monstrous creature was standing feet away from them and closing in quickly; it was nearly twice her height, stood on thick powerful legs and dirty bare feet; it had a large forehead that concaved in where baleful red eyes were currently focused on them.

Then it roared.

“THAT’S A TROLL!” David shouted. He backed away, pulling Nia back with him.

“What do we do?” Sera screamed.

The troll sped up, stomping forward on two large feet that shook the ground with each step. It was reaching forward with two hands.

“RUN!” David said, before taking off down the path with Nia.

Sera turned tail and sprinted after them, desperately praying that she wouldn’t stumble. In David’s panic, his mage light had disappeared and now the only things lighting the path were the glowing moon flowers.

She ran as fast as her feet would carry her but she couldn’t hear the heavy footfalls of the monster behind her and they were growing closer.

Then, a blunt force hard as a rock hit her shoulder blade and she was flying forward. She landed facedown, throwing her hands out barely in time to lessen the crash. Her face dropped forward in a puddle of mud, blinding her. She twisted around bringing her hands up and brushing at the mud covering her face.

“SERA!” She heard Nia scream from behind her.

Her vision cleared just in time to see the great beast bearing down on her; she thrashed her feet, pressing her heels into the ground pushing her further backward. A moment later, the troll was two feet from her and leaning forward, drawing back a hand, his stubby fingers curling into a wide fist. Sera instinctively lifted her right arm in front of her face, palm out.

And then with a jet of red light, a large boulder was flying at the troll, hitting it square in the chest. Sera looked to her right to see David standing roughly ten feet away.

Storytellers have a strong incentive to make threats feel close. They need to generate tension, and a troll over the next hill isn’t going to do that as well as one that’s close. But it’s easy to push this too far and squeeze in an unrealistic number of protagonist actions while the threat is getting closer. In this case, the troll starts “feet away” and is running toward them, yet it takes at least 15 seconds to get there. That suggests it’s actually a football field away.

In addition to how long it takes the troll to get to them, the protagonists take quite a while to react. If it’s scary enough that David thinks they should run, he would shout that and start running right away. Instead he shouts what it is and backs away a few steps before breaking into a run.

The passage contains another instance of time dilation after the troll knocks Sera to the ground. The troll should be within reach, or just about, yet Sera has time to right herself, clear her eyes to see it bearing down on her, thrash backward, and then raise an arm before it strikes again.

Fixing this time dilation requires some strategic decisions about how far away the troll should really be. The closer it is, the briefer the protagonist’s reaction must be. If it’s really only feet away, even describing the troll this much will make readers feel like time froze.

While the reaction time can be tightened quite a bit, the protagonists will still need several seconds to realize what’s happening and run. So I’ve opted to make the troll burst through the trees on the other side of a clearing. Here’s the beginning of the excerpt with the troll farther away and the reaction tightened.

Sera whipped around; a creature nearly twice her height burst through the trees across the clearing. It roared as it pounded closer on thick powerful legs and dirty bare feet.

“TROLL!” David shouted. “RUN!” He took off down the path, pulling Nia with him.

Sera turned tail and sprinted after them, desperately praying that she wouldn’t stumble.

To save time, I’ve cut the description down and mixed it with the troll’s actions. I made some subjective judgment calls on what description to keep; however, what’s important in this first brief moment is knowing that the troll is big and humanoid. That establishes the threat and gives an overall picture. When it closes in on Sera, details such as its eyes can be described. That can also have the side benefit of adding more atmosphere to later moments.

Considering how much I’ve cut down, will this sequence be too brief? That’s a possibility, but this excerpt also has a segment that could use expanding.

Sera turned tail and sprinted after them, desperately praying that she wouldn’t stumble. In David’s panic, his mage light had disappeared and now the only things lighting the path were the glowing moon flowers.

She ran as fast as her feet would carry her but she couldn’t hear the heavy footfalls of the monster behind her and they were growing closer.

Because the troll has to catch up to Sera while she’s running, this running sequence can last longer than the initial reaction. What’s more, Sera needs time to hear the troll getting closer. For that to work, at least several seconds must pass during this one sentence. That means it’s not being narrated in real time; it’s summary.

The vagueness of summary makes it more distant and less powerful. What about the terrain makes Sera worry she’ll stumble? Is the darkness actually causing an issue for her? How exactly does she know the troll is getting closer?

Below, I’ve expanded the running to add more tension and make it feel like it’s happening in real time.

Sera turned tail and sprinted after them. David’s mage light had fizzled out; only glowing moon flowers lit the path ahead. Praying her eyes would adjust, she leapt over a large tree root and dodged intruding branches. The troll pounded behind her.

Was the shadow across the path a fallen branch or just a few missing moon flowers? She raced through it and yelped as her feet hit cold water. A brook.

She could feel the ground shake now. The troll was closing in.

While I expanded the action, I tightened the description of the moon flowers. That doesn’t involve movement, so it slows the sequence down a little. The clause “the only things lighting the path were the glowing moon flowers” is also passive, so I changed that by making the moon flowers take the action.

Now it’s time to tackle the time dilation when Sera is thrown forward. While we could specify that she’s thrown forward a whole lot so the troll has to catch up to her, that would make readers wonder why she’s still okay afterward. Even getting punched like that is a lot of blunt force trauma. Since stumbling is already a threat, I think the best solution is to let her fall. That way the troll doesn’t have to be so close.

Then with some tightening, Sera’s reaction to falling and seeing the troll close in can fit into the time it would take for the troll to close in and ready a punch. Because this section is edited more heavily, let’s go over it one piece at a time.

Before:

Then, a blunt force hard as a rock hit her shoulder blade and she was flying forward. She landed facedown, throwing her hands out barely in time to lessen the crash. Her face dropped forward in a puddle of mud, blinding her. She twisted around bringing her hands up and brushing at the mud covering her face.

After:

Her foot slipped and she fell forward. She threw out her hands, but her face slapped into muddy ground. She twisted around and tried to brush away the mud covering her eyes.

The original says that Sera “was flying forward.” This puts her fall in slow motion. That can be a great way of extending a high tension moment, but unless readers worry that she might land on spikes, lava, etc, the tension won’t be high enough for that. Here, it’s just slowing things down.

For the rest of the paragraph, the tightened version relates the same events with fewer words. It isn’t necessary to say she landed facedown if her face is landing in the mud. It’s assumed that she will use her hands to brush away the mud, and if she’s trying to brush it from her eyes, that means she has a vision problem.

Before:

“SERA!” She heard Nia scream from behind her.

Her vision cleared just in time to see the great beast bearing down on her; she thrashed her feet, pressing her heels into the ground pushing her further backward. A moment later, the troll was two feet from her and leaning forward, drawing back a hand, his stubby fingers curling into a wide fist. Sera instinctively lifted her right arm in front of her face, palm out.

After:

“SERA!” Nia screamed from behind her.

Her vision cleared just in time to see the great beast bearing down on her. She thrashed backward, but the troll was already drawing back a hand and curling his stubby fingers into a wide fist. Sera shielded her face with an arm.

A common mistake is describing what characters are doing with their limbs in too much detail. Often, it slows the narration down, feels overly technical, and makes what’s happening harder to imagine. So it’s okay to just say a character is thrashing backward or shielding a face with an arm. In some cases, you may need to describe which limbs the character is using in what way for clarity, but otherwise focus on the action they’re taking.

Similarly, exact measurements are rarely the best way to communicate distance. Readers might already interpret “bearing down” as being a couple feet away, so stating “two feet” afterward could cause more time dilation. If the troll is readying a punch, readers will know it’s in punching range, and that’s what’s important.

Only the last small passage is left.

And then with a jet of red light, a large boulder was flying at the troll, hitting it square in the chest. Sera looked to her right to see David standing roughly ten feet away.

Here, the writer does a great job of putting readers on the same page as Sera. Just like her, they see the boulder hit the troll before they know David did it, giving this sequence a memorable finish. The only issue is that the first sentence has too much simultaneous action. I discuss this issue more in the next section; just note that “flying” and “hitting” means the boulder is flying through the air and also hitting the troll at the exact same time. That’s impossible. Instead, this is better written as “And then with a jet of red light, a large boulder flew at the troll and hit it square in the chest.”

Below is my revised version in full.

Sera whipped around; a creature nearly twice her height burst through the trees across the clearing. It roared as it pounded closer on thick powerful legs and dirty bare feet.

“TROLL!” David shouted. “RUN!” He took off down the path, pulling Nia with him.

Sera turned tail and sprinted after them. David’s mage light had fizzled out; only glowing moon flowers lit the path ahead. Praying her eyes would adjust, she leapt over a large tree root and dodged intruding branches. The troll pounded behind her.

Was the shadow across the path a fallen branch or just a few missing moon flowers? She raced through it and yelped as her feet hit cold water. A brook.

She could feel the ground shake now. The troll was closing in.

Her foot slipped and she fell forward. She threw out her hands, but her face slapped into muddy ground. She twisted around and tried to brush away the mud covering her eyes.

“SERA!” Nia screamed from behind her.

Her vision cleared just in time to see the great beast bearing down on her. She thrashed backward, but the troll was already drawing back a hand and curling his stubby fingers into a wide fist. Sera shielded her face with an arm.

And then with a jet of red light, a large boulder flew at the troll and hit it square in the chest. Sera looked to her right to see David standing roughly ten feet away.

Makeover 2: Bringing Out Character Action

Let’s examine pacing more at the sentence and paragraph level. This next excerpt creates a great impression of somewhat hapless dungeon explorers, and it stays in the moment, retelling actions in real time. Unfortunately, these actions are obscured by a long paragraph that makes the eye bounce right off it. The long sentences combining multiple character actions also make it harder to parse out what’s happening.

Have a look. For context, Kali has better darkvision than the other protagonists.

Kali looked up towards the door as a swift racing wind poured from the jewel in the wall and around the room. Mara and Gen’s torches went out, and they were in utter darkness besides the pinpoint starlight of the jewels in the skeleton’s eyes. She watched as the skeleton picked up speed and rushed towards Gen with its sword raised. “Gen, move!” she shouted as Gen swung in front of him with the unlit torch and ducked out of the way of the blade moving towards him. Cursing, Kali kept her eyes on Gen and the skeleton who was all lithe now in the darkness. “Left Gen.” He bobbed. “No my left!” Gen bobbed the other way, backing up as the skeleton’s sword hit his leg and then the floor. Gen yelped in pain, cursed, and raising his sword, he swiped at the skeleton, knocking a rib bone to the floor. As it clattered, the skeleton raised his sword and pressed in towards Gen. Gen met the sword with his and, holding sword to sword, swatted at the creature with his unlit torch.

The faster the pace of your scene is, the shorter the paragraphs and sentences should generally be. This paragraph also has bits of dialogue in the middle – a big sign it needs to be split up.

So below, I’ve done that. Where possible, I put actions by different characters on different paragraphs. That makes it easier to quickly follow what’s happening.

Kali looked up towards the door as a swift racing wind poured from the jewel in the wall and around the room. Mara and Gen’s torches went out, and they were in utter darkness besides the pinpoint starlight of the jewels in the skeleton’s eyes.

She watched as the skeleton picked up speed and rushed towards Gen with its sword raised.

“Gen, move!” she shouted.

Gen swung in front of him with the unlit torch and ducked out of the way of the blade moving towards him.

Cursing, Kali kept her eyes on Gen and the skeleton who was all lithe now in the darkness. “Left Gen.”

He bobbed.

“No my left!”

Gen bobbed the other way, backing up as the skeleton’s sword hit his leg and then the floor. Gen yelped in pain, cursed, and raising his sword, he swiped at the skeleton, knocking a rib bone to the floor.

As it clattered, the skeleton raised his sword and pressed in towards Gen. Gen met the sword with his and, holding sword to sword, swatted at the creature with his unlit torch.

Now it’s much easier to read. You might notice I tore a sentence in half to preserve a dialogue tag but still put actions by another character in a new paragraph.

Next, let’s cover how to make those sentences feel more immediate. The biggest factor is that this excerpt has lots of simultaneous action. You can recognize this in the excerpt by the word “as” or by a comma followed by a participle (“ing” verb) or gerund (“ing” verb used as a noun). In other works, the word “while” might be used, and if you neglect commas in your drafts, you might have to check every “ing.”

Below are some examples of this from the excerpt:

  • Kali looked up towards the door as a swift racing wind poured…
  • Gen bobbed the other way, backing up as the skeleton’s sword hit his leg and then the floor.
  • Gen met the sword with his and, holding sword to sword…

You might think that simultaneous action makes perfect sense in a fight scene. After all, during big fights multiple things are always happening at once. But in prose, simultaneous action can put the fight in slow mo, softening the effect of actions and making the scene feel less immediate. It can still be used in moderation to clarify what’s happening and give sentences a little variety. However, using it for important character actions or simply using it too much will reduce the fight’s impact.

So in the next excerpt, I removed almost all of the simultaneous action in favor of shorter statements putting actions in sequence.

Kali looked up towards the door. A swift racing wind poured from the jewel in the wall and around the room. Mara and Gen’s torches went out, and they were in utter darkness besides the pinpoint starlight of the jewels in the skeleton’s eyes.

The skeleton picked up speed and rushed towards Gen with its sword raised.

“Gen, move!” Kali shouted.

Gen swung in front of him with the unlit torch and ducked out of the way of the blade moving towards him.

Cursing, Kali kept her eyes on Gen and the skeleton who was all lithe now in the darkness. “Left Gen.”

He bobbed.

“No my left!”

Gen backed up and bobbed the other way. The skeleton’s sword hit his leg and then the floor. Gen yelped in pain, cursed, and raised his sword. He swiped at the skeleton, knocking a rib bone to the floor.

The skeleton raised its sword and pressed in towards Gen. Gen met the sword with his and swatted at the creature with his unlit torch.

For “she watched as the skeleton,” I removed the entire “she watched” clause. Since this is in Kali’s viewpoint, everything we see is something she is watching.

I kept “He swiped at the skeleton, knocking a rib bone to the floor.” Knocking the rib bone happened during the swipe, and because the knock isn’t as important as the swipe itself, it’s okay to de-emphasize it with a participle. Similarly, I kept “Cursing, Kali kept her eyes…” because the cursing isn’t that important, and it’s just one word.

We’re not done yet. Many of the sentences can be tightened to speed up the pace. The skeleton is also referred to passively or indirectly several times:

  • It rushes “with its sword raised” instead of raising its sword.
  • A blade moves toward Gen rather than the skeleton striking at Gen with its blade.
  • The skeleton’s sword hits Gen rather than the skeleton itself hitting him.

The skeleton needs to be threatening, and that means highlighting it as an actor.

Since this step involves a lot of subtle changes, I’ve marked them for your convenience. The words I removed are struck out, and the ones I’ve added are in bold.

Kali looked up towards the door. A swift racing Wind poured from the jewel in the wall and around the room. Mara and Gen’s the torches went out. and They were in utter darkness besides the pinpoint starlight of the jewels in the skeleton’s eyes.

The skeleton raised its sword picked up speed and rushed towards Gen with its sword raised.

“Gen, move!” Kali shouted.

The skeleton brought its blade down, and Gen ducked out of the way. of the blade moving towards him and He swung wildly in front of him with the unlit torch.

Cursing, Kali kept her eyes on Gen and the skeleton who was all lithe now in the darkness. “Left Gen.”

He bobbed.

“No my left!”

Gen backed up and bobbed the other way. The skeleton‘s sword hit struck his leg and then the floor. Gen yelped in pain, cursed, and raised his sword. He swiped at the skeleton, knocking a rib bone to the floor.

The skeleton raised its sword and pressed in towards Gen. Gen met the sword with his and swatted at the creature with his unlit torch.

In a slower moment, I would leave or rework some of the things I removed. In particular, understanding that the skeleton is more lithe in the dark is a nice detail. However, the level of description has to be balanced with the pace of the action. Being efficient with your description and working descriptive words into your action will help you include flavor without sabotaging the pace.

Below is the revised sequence without my marks.

Kali looked up towards the door. Wind poured from the jewel in the wall and the torches went out. They were in utter darkness besides the pinpoint starlight of the jewels in the skeleton’s eyes.

The skeleton raised its sword and rushed towards Gen.

“Gen, move!” Kali shouted.

The skeleton brought its blade down, and Gen ducked out of the way. He swung wildly with the unlit torch.

Cursing, Kali kept her eyes on Gen and the skeleton. “Left Gen.”

He bobbed.

“No my left!”

Gen backed up and bobbed the other way. The skeleton struck his leg. Gen yelped in pain, cursed, and swiped at the skeleton, knocking a rib bone to the floor.

The skeleton raised its sword and pressed in towards Gen. Gen met the sword with his and swatted at the creature with his unlit torch.

Makeover 3: Diving Into the Moment

As I mentioned in the first section, summarizing events will reduce their impact. An action scene is more riveting when it remains in real time, and anything that’s too vague will make the scene feel less real. However, in some cases staying in the moment is a big challenge. The excerpt below is written in omniscient and covers the actions of many protagonists. Could we really cover what every character is doing in real time?

No, not unless we separate them. If they are all fighting in their own corner, we could use small “meanwhile…” time jumps to cover each. That could work well for a climax or other pivotal fights, but in most cases, drawing out a fight that long will only exhaust readers.

Instead, writers using omniscient need to make strategic choices about what parts of the fight to cover and what to leave offscreen so readers don’t get overwhelmed. Even so, what is covered should feel specific and immediate.

The excerpt below does a good job of choosing some details to focus on, but in many places it’s still too vague and summarized. As a result, the fight feels rushed and not fully real. Have a look.

From the left side, the first of the strikers burst through the trees, something that may have once been elven or dwarven – but certainly not anymore. Its teeth were needle-sharp, and it stalked toward the rangers on spindly limbs, flexing its long curving claws as though it itched to tear through flesh.

Stovar hastily relit his torch, then dropped his flint, grabbed his spear, and thrust it at the creature’s head, piercing through one of its beady eyes. He yanked the weapon out, and the fiendish creature fell, only to be replaced by several more of its kind.

The rangers stood their ground. Hawette raised his musket and fired, the projectile sundering a striker’s rib cage. Beside him, Launis moved among the abhorrent creatures, slashing quickly with her broadsword. Onara fired arrows at the strikers as they drew close, and she noticed with a growing dread that there were far more than the five they’d seen before. The other rangers noticed it, too, and they faltered briefly.

That was all the time needed for a keening striker to lash out, almost as if sensing weakness, knocking Launis’s blade from her hands. Defiant to the end, the dwarf drew her hunting knife, slashing at her attacker.

Ronas rushed to help her, but she had barely reached Launis when two more strikers surged forth from the darkness, their wicked mutant claws seizing Launis and pulling her to the ground. Swallowing her horror and grief, Ronas turned away as the pair of the beasts fell upon the unfortunate dwarf.

You can tell something is too vague when the picture of what it looks like starts getting blurry or uncertain. In this case, the excerpt starts with a detailed description of the first striker and Stovar’s response to it. Then it gets vaguer, telling when it should show.

  • We hear that the striker is replaced by several more of its kind, but that’s not a very specific image. How many more? And what are they doing exactly, coming through the trees?
  • What does it mean for the group (rangers) to stand their ground? Do they show signs of fear only to dig in, or do they take up some kind of defensive formation?
  • What are the strikers doing while the group shoots them and cuts them down? They’re the antagonists, so it’s important to see them act.
  • How do the rangers falter? Do they stop and stare at the oncoming strikers? Do some of them lose their nerve and retreat too soon? This is especially critical because it allows a striker to get the better of Launis, resulting in her death.
  • What is Ronas doing while Launis is taken down? Without knowing more, it feels like she stands nearby, watches while her comrade is attacked, and then just turns and walks away. Similarly, we might assume Launis passively lets the two strikers bring her down.

Let’s have another look at part of the third paragraph.

Hawette raised his musket and fired, the projectile sundering a striker’s rib cage. Beside him, Launis moved among the abhorrent creatures, slashing quickly with her broadsword. Onara fired arrows at the strikers as they drew close, and she noticed with a growing dread that there were far more than the five they’d seen before.

This is largely summary; you can tell because it’s not clear how many times Onara looses her arrows (it should be “loosed” rather than “fired”) or how many strikers Launis hits. While summary will be needed for very large and lengthy fights like battles, it takes away from the immediacy of the scene. This fight isn’t large enough to make it necessary.

Below, I’ve expanded the prose right where it starts to become vague through the excerpt above.

He yanked the weapon out, and the fiendish creature fell. Five more emerged from the brush, tromping on its wriggling corpse to reach the rangers.

Stovar danced away and glanced back at Onara, but she shook her head. They wouldn’t retreat.

Seeing this, Launis raised her broadsword and rushed forward to meet the abhorrent creatures. The first swiped at her with its long claws, but she ducked and spun, slicing through its midsection. Another leapt for her, and she cleaved it midair. As she did, a third striker rushed at her back and then toppled over, Onara’s arrow poking through its neck. Hawette’s musket fired, and the fourth striker’s rib cage shattered.

Now all the character actions are in real time, and instead of very briefly covering what each protagonist is doing, Launis’s portion is brought to the forefront and narrated in more detail. Every scene, no matter how many details it’s juggling, needs something to focus on. This helps the reader prioritize their attention and makes it easier for us to incorporate mini arcs into our prose. For a big fight scene like this, the focus could be one of the protagonists, an individual antagonist, or a specific struggle such as whether the protagonists can close and bar the door.

While counting faceless enemies would be too much information in many fights, I’ve done it above so readers know how well the protagonists are doing. Because there’s only five strikers, I can get away with it. At this point, readers should know that only one striker from the group of five is left. I’m going to let that last striker disarm Launis, emphasizing how victory turns to defeat.

For the next part, I introduced something specific to distract the group and make them falter.

The brush rustled behind them and a dozen or more strikers thudded down the hillside, drool dripping from their gaping mouths. Outnumbered and surrounded, the rangers turned to face the new attackers, terror seeping into their eyes.

Her brows furrowed at the sight, Launis let her guard slip. Her remaining striker lashed out and knocked her broadsword from her hands. Lurching back, she slashed at it with her hunting knife, though the blade was too small to match the spindly reach of the striker.

In the original excerpt, it isn’t clear why Launis’s situation is so dire that it warrants “defiant to the end,” so I added commentary to clarify why she doesn’t have much chance without her broadsword.

It’s time for Ronas to come in. Simply saying Ronas rushed to help Launis suggests nothing is in the way, and she needs obstacles to provide a reason why she doesn’t try harder to save Launis. So again, the text needs expanding to make the scene feel more immersive.

Ronas kicked a creature back and rushed to help, weaving around Stovar and Hawette. She reached Launis’s attacker and thrust her blade through its middle, but two more strikers surged forth from behind Launis. They pulled her to the ground with their wicked mutant claws as she kicked and cried out.

Ronas pulled her blade free to assist, but the wounded striker spun and clawed at her. Swallowing her horror and grief, Ronas was forced to defend herself as the beasts tore through the unfortunate dwarf.

Now readers have a sense of the chaos of this fight as Ronas tries to help Launis, and it’s clear that Ronas can’t both stay alive and rescue her comrade. Launis is no longer passive while she’s attacked, making her death more impactful. We also have another action from a striker, making the antagonists feel more threatening.

Below is the full revised version with all the vague and over-summarized portions filled in.

From the left side, the first of the strikers burst through the trees, something that may have once been elven or dwarven – but certainly not anymore. Its teeth were needle-sharp, and it stalked toward the rangers on spindly limbs, flexing its long curving claws as though it itched to tear through flesh.

Stovar hastily relit his torch, then dropped his flint, grabbed his spear, and thrust it at the creature’s head, piercing through one of its beady eyes. He yanked the weapon out, and the fiendish creature fell. Five more emerged from the brush, tromping on its wriggling corpse to reach the rangers.

Stovar danced away and glanced back at Onara, but she shook her head. They wouldn’t retreat.

Seeing this, Launis raised her broadsword and rushed forward to meet the abhorrent creatures. The first swiped at her with its long claws, but she ducked and spun, slicing through its midsection. Another leapt for her, and she cleaved it midair. As she did, a third striker rushed at her back and then toppled over, Onara’s arrow poking through its neck. Hawette’s musket fired, and a fourth striker’s rib cage shattered.

The brush rustled behind them and a dozen or more strikers thudded down the hillside, drool dripping from their gaping mouths. Outnumbered and surrounded, the rangers turned to face the new attackers, terror seeping into their eyes.

Her brows furrowed at the sight, Launis let her guard slip. Her remaining striker lashed out and knocked her broadsword from her hands. Lurching back, she slashed at it with her hunting knife, though the blade was too small to match the spindly reach of the striker.

Ronas kicked a creature back and rushed to help, weaving around Stovar and Hawette. She reached Launis’s attacker and thrust her blade through its middle, but two more strikers surged forth from behind Launis. They pulled her to the ground with their wicked mutant claws as she kicked and cried out.

Ronas pulled her blade free to assist, but the wounded striker spun and clawed at her. Swallowing her horror and grief, Ronas was forced to defend herself as the beasts tore through the unfortunate dwarf.


You’d be surprised how far simple, straightforward prose will get you. While it may not always have the novelty readers like in slow moments, keeping the narration simple allows the action to take center stage when the story is at its most exciting.

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