“The key to a good action scene is reversals.”
William C. Martell says that action films have to be filled with action. But it has to be more than car chases and things exploding, right? In his book The Secrets of Action Screenwriting, Martell poses this question and then answers it; “How do you write exciting action passages? Use reversals, suspense, ticking clock, rug pulls, and twists!” So what is a reversal? Martell defers to someone who as made millions writing action screenplays:
“It’s like a good news, bad news joke. The bad news is, you get thrown out of an airplane. The good news is, you’re wearing a parachute. the bad news is, your rip cord breaks. The good news is, you have a back up ‘chute. The bad news is you can’t reach the cord. Back and forth, just like that, until the character reaches the ground. He’s gonna die…no he’s not…Reversal, reversal, reversal.”
We’ll look at some of the other ways to write action in Part 6.