Write down your idea. Before you start writing, you should have a general idea of what you want to write about. While you don’t need the specifics yet, try writing down your idea in a single sentence. By limiting your grand aspirations to a single line, you can refine story and focus your main conflict.
You don't want to have a topic that causes people to cease reading your novel within five seconds. An action novel should introduce conflict as soon as possible so the reader is hooked.
Come up with a protagonist that readers will want to root for. Make them relatable so the audience connects with them right away.
Make sure you have a new perspective to write about. You don't need to come up with a story idea that no one has ever heard of before, but you do want to tell your story with your own unique voice.
Research. In action novels, it is a good idea to know the different types of weaponry, vehicles, and technology that will be used throughout the book. You should familiarize yourself with the application and practicality of various guns, military services, survival techniques, computer programs, and combat styles. This will make your writing more precise, and it will help you hammer out those tricky action scenes later.
Places you can use for research include museums, libraries, and archives. If your book involves technical knowledge, try contacting an expert about the subject area. University websites, newspapers, and government agencies can be a good source of information on who to contact.
While it is good to research as much as possible, you don’t need to include all of your research in your book. Too much information will overwhelm the reader. Decide what is necessary as you write your novel.
Travel to similar locations. Maybe your story is a globetrotting adventure, or maybe it is set in your hometown. If you are able to, try visiting the locations you plan to write about. During your visit, record important details about the scenery. What is the climate like? Where are the major streets and landmarks? Engage all of your senses: what does it smell like? What can you see? How noisy is it? What kind of sounds do you hear?
Perhaps you can't afford a trip to Mount Everest, but you can visit a local mountain. Or perhaps you don't have time to visit Miami, but there is a beach close to you. You can still do on-site research without traveling across the world.
Mind map your ideas. This technique is great for visual writers. Try writing your main conflict in the middle of a sheet of paper. Trace a circle around it. Draw lines for each major event or catalyst off this center circle and write them down. As ideas come to you about your novel, draw more lines that show how these ideas connect to your larger narrative. Lines can interconnect, zigzag, or even branch off into other circles. Your mind map can resemble a web, a tree, or even a spreadsheet.
Write an outline. Outlines not only sketch out the main action before you write your novel but can help you identify problems with the plot ahead of time. Write a list of the events of your novel as they happen. These headings should be short descriptors of each scene. Bullet points and subsections can record the details of each scene, such as which characters are present, where the action takes place, and how the action resolves.
Write your story on notecards. Record each plot event on a notecard. On a table, arrange the notecards so that you can visualize the entire plot. Reorganize the notecards as you brainstorm. You can move around events or reorder certain scenes. When you are ready to put the notecards away, be careful to keep them in their proper sequence, so that next time you need to consult them, they are already arranged correctly.
Use the snowflake method. Write your idea down in a single sentence. Once you are done, expand that single sentence into a paragraph that describes the main conflict, important events and obstacles, and the ending. Slowly expand your synopsis, first from one paragraph to one page and then from one page to four pages. Keep adding to this synopsis until you are ready to begin writing the novel itself.
The snowflake method can help make the writing process a little less intimidating so it's easier to get started.
Draft profiles for each character. To write convincing characters, you should know every detail of their lives. Write a summary or list for each character that notes their physical characteristics, history, motivations, relationships, personality traits, habits, and flaws. Important questions include:
Ask yourself how your character moves and speaks.
What skills does this character possess that make them useful through the book? Are they skilled in a particular fighting technique? Can they hack computers or fly a helicopter? How did they develop this skill? Do they have experience in the military or a tragic past?
Why is this character invested in the events of this book? What motivates them to participate in the action? What is at stake for them?
How does this character deal with anger? How does this character deal with tragedy? What about fear, disgust, excitement, or danger?
How does this character treat those they love? How does this character treat those they hate?
Keep an idea journal. Always have a notebook on hand for when inspiration strikes. Write down intriguing details as they come to you. As you research, keep detailed notes on everything you find. Later, when you are at your desk, you can use this journal as a reference.
You can also keep track of your ideas by recording them in an app on your phone.
Freewrite. Freewriting is a process in which you sit down and write whatever is on your mind for fifteen minutes. You can ignore grammar, punctuation, or even logic. During this time, your pen should always be moving. This process helps start you writing and overcome the mental mind blocks that prevent you from beginning.
Freewriting doesn’t have to be about your novel. In fact, if you are distracted, freewriting about your distractions can help clear your mind so that you can focus on your novel.
You can find prompts for freewriting at http://creativewritingprompts.com/ and http://www.writersdigest.com/.
Try a writing prompt. There are plenty of websites, books, and forums that offer writing prompts to start the creative juices flowing. These can give you a starting place for writing your story.
Write a snappy opening. The first few lines or hook of a book is especially important in action novels. A strong opening will introduce the action without overwhelming the reader with too much description, dialogue, or exposition. There a few different types of effective hooks.
Introduce a character. The character should be doing something important. You don’t have to describe their personality or physical appearance yet.
Open with dialogue. An enticing line of dialogue can be the perfect way to begin a novel. It introduces a character while making a statement about their situation.
Begin with a bang. Your story might open with a catastrophic event or disaster which your hero has to solve.
Don’t get hung up on the opening. While it can be helpful to begin with the first sentences, if you are having difficulty with the beginning, feel free to move forward. Maybe the perfect opening will come to you later.
Start with action. In an action novel, this may be the most effective way to begin writing the story. In the opening lines, something should happen. There can be an explosion, a burglary, or a murder. Your character can be answering the phone, driving, or in pursuit. The action does not have to be necessarily about the main event, so long as it reveals something about the main character or conflict.
You can also begin in the middle of the action. Perhaps a series of murders just occurred, and police just found the latest victim. Perhaps you open during a high speed car chase after a crime that has been committed. Regardless, you can begin in the middle of an exciting event but before the main conflict begins.
Write ten scenes. Pick the ten most important scenes of your novel. These will be the backbone of your story. Your first scene should be the opening scene. The second and third scenes should mark the point of no return for your protagonist. The next several scenes should build up to the climax, around scene seven or eight, and the last scenes should wind down the action to its resolution.
It may help if you map out your scenes using a scene list. A scene list can be made up of detailed descriptions of each scene that include a 1-2 sentence summary of the scene, how long the scene is going to be, and what point of view it's being written from.
Flesh out the story. After you write a few major scenes, fill in the blanks between these chapters. How does the character get from Point A to Point B? Where do the characters find the weapons or tools that allow them to overcome the antagonist? How do the characters unravel the mystery at the heart of these major scenes?
Plan time to write every day. By writing a little bit every day, you will quickly start a habit, and when you sit down to write your novel, the words will flow more easily. Set a time when you are able to write consistently every day. You may want to set a word quota for the day or week that you force yourself to reach.
Some writers find it easier to write in the early morning or late at night. Experiment with your schedule to find the ideal time for yourself.
Join a writing circle. There are plenty of groups and clubs that meet to discuss their writing. These groups can encourage you to keep writing, provide constructive feedback, and support you when you’re struggling You might even find a group that focuses exclusively on action novels. If you can’t find a local writing circle, start one yourself!
When your novel is finished, your writing circle can even help you network and find publishing opportunities.
Set goals. Every week, write a checklist of your goals. These goals should be reasonable. How many words do you want to write by Friday? What scenes do you want to finish? Are you struggling with a particular character or part of the novel? As you complete these goals, check them off your list.
Take a break. Step away from your notebook or computer to rest. Distract yourself for thirty minutes with another activity. Cook dinner. Freewrite. Make some phone calls. Watch an episode of your favorite TV show. It is particularly helpful to engage in other creative activities. You can draw a picture, play an instrument, knit, or make a scrapbook. Whatever you do, don’t think about your novel for this period of time. When you return to your manuscript, you should be refreshed.
Talk through your problems. Writing can be an isolated practice. If you are struggling with a particular aspect of your novel, ask a friend to sit down with you for 30 minutes and discuss your project. Just the process of speaking can help your brain work through your problems, and your friend might be able to give you helpful advice.
Go out for a walk. Exercise has been shown to increase productivity. People who regularly exercise also demonstrate higher levels of creativity. Since you are writing an action novel, it might be helpful to go out and be active!
Roleplay. Imagine you are your protagonist. How would you act in this situation? As you go about your day, imagine what they would do in your place. If you are a runner, imagine you are running away from your antagonist or are involved in a high-speed chase. If you enjoy hiking, you can imagine one of your characters is lost in the woods. Keep your journal nearby and record these experiences as soon as possible.
Make yourself sit down and write anyway. Sometimes, the best way to overcome writer's block is to force yourself to start writing. It doesn't have to be good, the point is to just get yourself writing again. When you're finished, you might even find parts of your writing that you like and want to keep for your story!