How to Write Action Scenes in First Person

action adult athletes battle
Photo by Coco Championship on

Writing in first person can be a unique an interesting experience for a writer. It allows you to get inside the head of your main character, and experience the fictitious world you have set them in through their eyes.

However, there are certain considerations you have to make when writing in first person, particularly when writing action scenes.

1. Know your character.

First, you’ll have to consider their experience in fighting.  A veteran fighter would have sharper reflexes and a keen eye to catching their opponent’s moves as compared to a person who has never trained in fighting before.

Let’s say your main character is an average guy who works in a desk all day. He gets assaulted by a random stranger on the streets. There’s a big chance that he would never see what hit him. He’d get socked in the face and would hit the pavement fast. He would not know whether it was the left or right hand that struck him.

As for an experienced fighter, there is a higher chance that he would be able to spot the striking fist, and be able to react appropriately. Your fighter could possibly see the hit and anticipate its move, and be able to either dodge or counter the attack. Even if he was hit, there is a chance that he was able to see which hand dealt the blow.

Basically, what I’m trying to point out here is that you should be able to have a good idea of your character’s reaction time to be able to write action scenes more effectively.

2. Write short sentences

Short sentences give the impression of urgency.

Write with less description, more action.

Writing with a lot of description would slow down the reader’s pace, and therefore, also slow down the action of your scene.

Besides, we are writing in first person perspective. When in a fight, your character will be intensely focused on his opponent, and his moves. Everything around them would be a blur.

If you must set the scene, do it before everything goes down.

adult athlete battle fight
Photo by Pixabay on

3. Are there any complex choreography?

One thing I really enjoy in watching action scenes are the complex choreography that the fighters make when they fight. It looks so beautiful on the screen – like a dance, but much more deadly.

The issue I have with this is that when writing, it can be difficult to convey such action to your readers. Using complex descriptions of the move may even be distracting, or downright confusing.

So how do we do this?

I frankly don’t know as I have not read nor written an action sequence that involves such things. It might even be that these things are limited to the visual media, as opposed to the written media. It may be possible to try writing complex choreographed moves in say third person or even limited third person perspective, but as of now, I am having difficulty wrapping my head around this concept.

So, I guess if it seems to complex or difficult to write, it would probably best to avoid it.

4. Use the right words.

This one sort of falls in the “Know your Character” category, but when writing first person, we have to remember that it is not the writer that is speaking, but the main character.

We should avoid using fancy (or even non-fancy) words that your character would not be caught using. A character who does not have a wide ivy-league level vocabulary should avoid terms and words or phrases that may in effect break his character. We are in his head, we are in his mind, and we are hearing his thoughts. If we are dealing with a potty-mouthed fighter who talks street jargon – we should try to use that.

Would that be confusing? How about let the character explain a term that you think your general reader may not know.

If you know anatomy to a certain degree, but figure that your character probably does not know that much, limit your use of such things when describing out a fight.


two man in white shorts fighting using sword during daytime
Photo by ginu plathottam on

I have to admit that I am no expert in writing in the first person, but have found the above-mentioned tips to be useful when I attempted to write some works in the first person.

Writing in third person, or even the limited third person is much, much easier, and in a bind to create something, I would probably write something in those perspective.  However, if you do wish to stir things up a bit, and would want to have a different writing experience, get in your main character’s head and try writing in first person perspective.

Happy writing, and have a nice day.

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Author: jomz

Web Designer and Developer, Graphic Artist. Writer.

2 thoughts on “How to Write Action Scenes in First Person”

  1. Excellent tips, Jomz. And I think they apply to third person writing too. Number 3 is particularly interesting to me. Something to pay attention too. Only a couple of details are all that’s needed to flavor a fight scene.

  2. I haven’t realized it, but I guess you are right! It can apply to writing in third person, too.

    I am still scratching my head with how to work on complex choreography, similar to a Jacky Chan film where he’s moving about and doing things while fighting – all the while without losing your readers along the way. hahaha…

    Thank you for reading!

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