I’m currently reading an urban fantasy tale. It’s all part of developing a stronger understanding of the expected Tropes in that genre so I can write stronger stories.
Anyway, the book is super fast-paced. WOW! As in if a story is supposed to have peaks and valleys, this one is all peaks. There’s very little time to breathe. I know authors are told to pace their stories and the action in their stories but something tells me breakneck tales are beloved by a large number of readers.
I just came across a scene in the book that left me wanting more. A character and a buddy break into a secure facility housing mean supernaturals to break someone out. They use a stun gun on the first obstacle they meet. Then, they have to figure out a way to get the elevator to take them to a floor that technically doesn’t exist. When they get there, a guard stops them but is neutralized in a way that doesn’t kill him because someone on the team doesn’t want to kill folks that are simply doing their job (something I agree with).
Now the next few steps are where the story went soft. The team of rescuers, remember there are only two of them, round the corner to find a whole bunch of armed guards and a mage coming their way. They retreat and use a weapon to stun the guards. The mage is still standing, as expected. Then there’s a physical fight. The main character breaks the mage’s leg and soon he capitulates letting them into the cell they’re looking for.
The scene is perfectly fine but…remember I said the book was nothing but peaks? This was supposed to be a peak but I’d been so spoiled by all the wonderful action scenes in the book so far that this one just didn’t deliver.
I thought to myself, how would I have written that scene? Now because I think visually, I imagined these characters in a Hollywood blockbuster and I immediately knew what to do.
The remedy in my humble opinion, was to heighten the tension by making the objective a little harder to achieve.
So, the team needs to free someone from a holding facility for supernatural bag guys and bad gyals (yes, I wrote that word exactly how I wanted, lol. Be sure to say it with a Caribbean accent for full effect, thank you)?
I would put a few more obstacles in the way. Not that many but just enough to remind the reader that our heroes aren’t infallible.
As such, when they see that hoard of armed officers and the mage, they stun the officers but the mage keeps coming. And he’s strong as hell. They fight but are equally matched and then the non fighting team member announces that backup has arrived and the rescuers flee. As they race down hallway’s that look the same, one notes that they aren’t on the right floor, pointing to a sign on the wall. They see an exit sign ahead and are reaching for the door handle when bullets come spraying their way. They tumble into a stairwell where a huge creature awaits (remember, this is an urban fantasy story and dangerous creatures are expected everywhere). The creature grabs the head of the main character, sending him off into a nightmare where he’s aflame. He’s screaming until he’s not and he hears his name being screamed. His eyes open and his partner tells him they have to go. The big creature was destroyed with a mystical weapon. The door behind them is locked but threatens to bend under the weight of their pursuers. They take the stairs two at a time and enter their desired level with caution. It’s quiet and they round the corner to get slammed by a mystical ball of energy that sends them flying.
Then, a battle erupts between themselves and two supernatural beings. It ends with one of them dead and the other scared $#*!less by a weapon that could evaporate him. He concedes defeat and takes them to the cell they’re looking for.
The additions I suggested would require more work but I like to think they’d be rewarding in the long run.
And it was with that in mind that I took almost look at my current work in progress. It’s the followup to LegionBorn and it’s called LegionMarked. I found clear instances where I needed to build up the physical conflict by increasing the amount of danger a character was in.
In my non-physical scenes, I saw opportunities to dial-up the conflict in the dialogue through the internal thoughts of a character and their physical responses to the situations they were in.
And in case you are wondering, the book I’m enjoying is called Tombyards & Butterflies by Orlando A. Sanchez. I’m happy I stumbled upon this scene and wanted to make it better. This is the first book by this author that I’ve read but I know I’ll be reading more. As an and thoroughly, it’s always great to stumble upon an author’s book that not only entertains but teaches and compels me to step my game up.
And on that note, let me go put in some work in LegionMarked. I’ve got approximately 10,000 words to go until it’s done and the real work truly begins. Ha! The life of a bad gyal, urban fantasy writer!