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Outlaw Trigger by Lee Stephen is the follow up to Dawn of Destiny and a wonderful second installment in the EPIC series. I never do spoilers, but I will say that this book is what will vault you right back to your friendly book seller for the third installment, (Hint: Just get it now and save yourself the wait.)
Stephen does an exceptional job once more of bringing the "everyman" into a science fiction world and pushing them to the limits of ability. His dialogue is superb and helps propel the story forward instead of bogging it down. Also, he has created his universe with care and given it its own "sciencey" way of working.
Scott Remington faces a defining moment here and this is where Stephen shines. He makes you feel what Scott Remington feels by taking you into the story that can easily allow you to get lost. This is Sci-fi opera at its best, and kudos to an outstanding writer for taking us on the journey.
Book Description for Outlaw Trigger:
They say every man has a breaking point-every man can be pushed off the edge. Scott Remington entered EDEN with the heart of a lion. He forged glory in the furnace of war. But on the heels of dawn, darkness awaits. Only when stretched to the limit will a man truly learn who he is. That limit is about to be breached. Lines will be crossed. Sides will be chosen. And faith will be put to the test. Will the righteous prevail?Born and raised in Cajun country, Lee Stephen spent his childhood paddling pirogues through the marshes of South Louisiana. When he wasn’t catching bullfrogs or playing with alligators in the bathtub (both true), he was escaping to the world of the imagination, creating worlds in his mind filled with strange creatures and epic journeys. This hasn’t stopped.
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Now a resident of Luling, Louisiana, Lee spends time every day delving into the world of Epic, the science-fiction series that has come to define him as a writer and producer. Alongside his wife, Lindsey, their sons, Levi and Lawson, and their dog, Jake, Lee has made it a mission to create a series that is unique in its genre—one unafraid to address the human condition while staying grounded in elements of faith.
WRITING CINEMATIC ACTION by Lee Stephen
We as writers all have our strengths and weaknesses. In the latter category, I’ve always struggled with keeping things concise (I don’t think I’m capable of writing a short story or standalone novel). I also tend to overdo the dramatic elements in the draft phase, leaving a ton of cleanup work afterward to make the material not sound like a walking cliché. Those are both things that, though I can handle well enough, are nowhere near strengths for me.
Action, on the other hand, is my bread and butter. Despite all the elements of Epic that make it what it is, if you asked anyone what the strongest part of the series was, nine out of ten would say the action scenes. It’s what I’m a stud at. It’s what I do.
I could spend the length of several narratives going over the intricacies of writing high-octane action scenes, but for the sake of keeping this relatively short, I’m going to share three tips that can ramp your action sequences up a few notches. I will preface this by saying that this is how I do things. It’s not necessarily right for everyone. With that said, though, it’s my honest belief that if you nail these three elements, you’ll have your audience sweating at the edge of their seat.
- Be rhythmic. Action has a certain tempo beyond just being fast. When bullets start flying, you want to hit those action notes like they’re coming out of a rapid-fire weapon. Hear the beats in your head: “da-DA, da-DA, da-DA…da da da da da…” Imagine that series of notes in sentence form. “The door burst open. The assassin appeared. He raised his rifle. As orange bursts flew out of the killer’s weapon, Daniel dove behind the counter…etc., etc.” There’s a danger in overusing this, but in the right moment, it’ll scream like a Michael Bay movie (with good writing).
2- Abandon the rules when it makes for better reading. Yes, the story you’re writing might follow the point of view of one character, but if an opportunity arises to make another shine, don’t feel like you can’t hop into their heads for a brief moment in time. Sometimes the best moments in a battle come from secondary or tertiary characters. If it’s time for them to have a moment, give them a moment—just make sure you transition in and out of it smoothly. Make it clear that this is something unusual—a deviation in the narrative for the sake of hammering something home.
An example of what I’m talking about can be found in the following scene from the movie Predators (2010):https://youtu.be/VMZbK-sZHiI. PREADATORS SPOILER ALERT! Throughout the movie, we’ve followed the main character, Royce, played by Adrien Brody, as he and his companions have tried to outrun the monsters hunting them. We’ve been him in this movie. But in this scene, we take a subtle, but very effective deviation into Predator territory. The shift occurs shortly after the mark, where the classic Predator theme appears and the Predator begins gearing up. Though Royce is still present in this scene, there’s no question that this is the Predator’s moment. For those brief 40-50 seconds, we’re sucked into his world. It’s about to go down. The use of slow motion (I mean literally slow motion, not “slow motion”), amp-up music, and well-placed camera shots make this a spine-tinglingly awesome moment, particularly if you’ve been with this movie from the very beginning. Like I said, this is very subtle, but if you can capture moments like that, you’ll have some really special scenes in your story.
3- Get lost in the action. No, I mean it. Get lost. You don’t need to etch out every single little detail about every little thing happening. Your main character isn’t going to see everything, so your reader doesn’t have to either. Have him duck down, have him feel splinters of wood hitting him from bullets flying in from directions he can’t see. Have him scramble away through smoke with no clue as to where he’s running. Have him lose sight of his comrades, of the exit. Put him in a tail spin, because that’s how war is. Too many writers spent too much time saying what bullet went where, and what it hit, and where the guy who shot the weapon ran off to, and what his high school GPA was, and why his relationship with his mother soured. You don’t need all that. Embrace the frenetic nature of combat. Your readers will appreciate it.
These are just a few of the many tips that I incorporate into the action scenes that I write. Give them a shot and see if they work for you, too!