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The Action - Non-Action Ratio

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Feb. 23, 2019

No matter what your webcomic is about, from slice-of-life to epic fantasy to dystopian sci fi, it will have a ratio of action scenes to non-action scenes. This ratio is very important as it affects the pacing of your story as well as how interesting and engaging it will be.

For the purposes of our discussion, action scenes involve situation where physical action or verbal action create a high-stakes environment that catalyzes a situation, changing it from what it was before.

Non-action scenes are scenes where characters interact in a less suspenseful or climactic situation, possibly analyzing or expanding on previous events, interrelationships and the like.

Depending on the genre of your webcomic (or any other narrative work) the ratio of action to non-action will differ. An action comic will probably have more action and less non-action while a suspenseful thriller might have more non-action and less (but still powerful) action.

Deciding on what that ratio will be, therefore, is up to you as a creator and to an extend to the audience expectations regarding the genre they think they're about to enjoy. However what you always must have is the ratio itself- along with the non-action, there has to be action. Along with the action, there has to be non-action.

If the plot consists only of one without any other the other, it will lose either one of two vital elements: catalyzation or processing.

Action scenes are catalysts by nature: they are the culmination, the climax of a sequence that led to them. From the show-down at noon in a western to the fight between the protagonist and antagonist to the slap of the love interest or the courtroom cross-examination scene, action scenes are there to push the plot forward and create new conditions and situations. These in turn push the characters to develop as they are forced to deal with the new situations and adapt to them.

Non-action scenes are where the characters have a chance to regroup, reconfigure and address the situation(s) that came forth from the action scenes. It's to a big extend where the character arc develops and we watch them evolve into different version of themselves than who they started as. And in the same time, they're the scenes where your audience also regroups and takes stock of what just happened during the action scenes. It's the much needed breath after the plunge.

Non-action scenes create the suspense, set the stakes, prepare the scene. Action scenes are where the pay-off is.

Without one, there can't be the other.

Too much of one with too little of the other might kill the interest of the audience in the story (action too can be boring, if it continues after the pay-off and becomes redundant, while non-action can become meandering and meaningless if it doesn't refine and develop the parameters of the story and the plot, and give importance to the characters and their actions).

What do you think? What's the action- non-action ratio in your webcomic?

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bravo1102 at 5:55AM, Feb. 24, 2019

Calm before the storm and the context for what is to come. Those are two thing vital to the mix of non-action scenes and action. And read real-life accounts of action and there are often lulls in the midst of everything while everyone catches their breath. A "pit-stop" or cognition scene so to speak where everything that happened is processed. Not non-stop.

Banes at 3:21PM, Feb. 23, 2019

Great stuff. And those non-action scenes are what gives the action all its weight and meaning. An all timer is in the movie you've pictured here - the iconic "night before the final battle" scene with the three guys in the boat in JAWS, featuring Quint's story of the Indianapolis.

Ozoneocean at 6:18AM, Feb. 23, 2019

This reminds me of the movie Van Helsing. It was a good movie but there was just TOO much action. I couldn't really take stoke of what was happening. You can't have that in media- no matter what it is, you have to let people slow down for a bit. It's why in old glam metal albums you'd have a mix of high energy rocking songs and ballads. You need a mix of pacing.

usedbooks at 4:48AM, Feb. 23, 2019

One important thing to remember is that in less active scenes, characters should still be engaging in some activity, and in action scenes, characters should still be developing plot and conversing. Don't separate the two entirely because then both suffer, become incredibly boring, and you end up with The Hobbit movie.

mks_monsters at 4:48AM, Feb. 23, 2019

I try to balance it as well as I can. If the situation calls for it, I put in an action sequence. If not, I have characters speaking or in some cases, doing a simple action like thinking, walking or being in shock. I learned that from anime. A simple moment of silence is ok.

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