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When people think "action" or "adventure," chances are movies come to mind first. Of course you can’t compete with the movies; nor should that be your goal. What you should do is capitalize on the things that books can do that movies can’t--- show thoughts and emotions. Capitalizing on that in action scenes is one of the main reasons why you hear "The book was so much better than the movie."
Seriously, guys, books ftw. Even when you're talking (or ESPECIALLY when you're talking) about action and adventure.
When Writing Action Scenes:
To make it more exciting, add emotion. Readers want to know how it’s affecting the character.
To make it more interesting, have clever dilemmas. Or clever ways to get our characters high up in that metaphorical tree and then to throw rocks at them. Don’t go with what comes to mind first. Keep thinking and come up with dilemmas you haven’t heard a million times before.
To make the reader root for your character, show the character being clever. It can take a LOT of brainstorming to figure out how to get them down from that tree after you did such an amazing job of getting them up there. And let's face it: it’s really hard when you need your characters to be more clever than you are. What we have that our characters don’t, though, is time to think. Do it.
To make the reader care, show lots of character. Readers care much more for the action if they care for the characters. It’s a time to show their character in the way they respond to everything.
Don’t go too long without action. I’m not saying your characters have to run for their lives or jump off a cliff (although I am quite fond of characters jumping off a cliff ;)). Action can be things as simple as running to make the school bus. Exploring a hospital while trying not to get caught. Being caught in a rainstorm. Something that gets the characters excited and moving. Preferably fast.
And never use lots of description during action scenes. It will bog it down. Every time. If where they’re going to be needs lots of description, have it be before the action. In a previous scene, if possible. If the best way to lay out the scene is during the action, keep it very short and sparse. Think of what the characters would actually notice when they were in that situation. If they just broke into the bad guy’s lair, stole his freeze ray, set off the alarms in the process, and are racing out of the building while trying not to get caught, they aren’t going to notice that the paint on the walls is pale yellow, and cracked and peeling at places. Or that the light fixtures look like they belong in an old castle. Or that there’s a pomegranate scent drifting through the hallways. They might, however, notice that the floor stones are uneven, making it hard to run. Or that the lights are flickering, plunging them into moments of darkness.
But possibly the most important thing with action / adventure is to make sure your reader cares about your characters, otherwise they won’t care what happens when your characters get into trouble.
And on to the 5th element every book needs... A SENSE OF WONDER!