Writing Action

Is my biggest challenge as a writer.

As a security guard, I am no stranger to violence. But almost always, during the course of my work, even a relatively lengthy altercation is simply summarized into a short sentence or two.

For example, “The two men was shouting at each for over 15 minutes and then the man in the red shirt punched the man wearing the white t-shirt.”

Short and sweet. Straight to the point. And boring as hell to read.

I couldn’t use that kind of writing for Guards Gone Wild! but, at the same time, I wanted to entertain my readers with the description of a violent altercation, in a manner that will allow them to instantly grasp what was going on at that point in time.

In the chapter 10-13, because I advised two delinquents that they were going against mall regulations when they started soliciting for donations from our shoppers, I ended being the target of their wrath. It was rather exciting for me but I am sure the whole experience was lazily summarized into “S/O Loh advised the two boys not to ask for money at the mall” in our official report.

Minutes after the initial confrontation, I was ambushed during my patrol by a gang of four. The two boys had called for backup and, now that two had become four, they were rather more gutsy in their dealing with me.

1 lone guard. Surrounded by 4 hostile delinquents. Unsympathetic on-lookers watching with glee. There you go. If my time at the mall were to be made into a movie, that would be one of the money-making scenes.

I didn’t write the incident report, but I am sure it went something like:

“S/O Loh was threatened by four boys during his patrol.”

Didn’t I just say I couldn’t use that kind of writing?

To prevent my readers from dozing off halfway through my book, the few action scenes have to show, not just tell, what was going on.

And so, rather than “The two boys refused to listen to S/O Loh”, I used this:

That was when the confrontation escalated. One of the boys, the bigger and heavier of the two, made an attempt to grab my walkie-talkie from me. A lunge in my direction with one hand stretched out, like an overeager hand shake. I twisted my body away and kept one hand protectively on my walkie-talkie, the way a T.V. cop might palm a sidearm in his belt holster. The heavyweight’s partner stepped between us and put out his arm. A preventative measure to check the advance of his stronger and heavier partner. And perhaps a mollifying one, like he was a school teacher trying to calm down an unruly student. Now, now, please settle down. But it had the opposite effect on me, because when he held up his arm, his sleeve rode up and I saw them. The Chinese words tattooed on his forearm. A Chinese poem.

And the ambush that could have become a money-making scene became this:

Even as I was nearing the display board, the four delinquents were cutting through the crowd like sharks heading towards their prey. Me. When they got within speaking distance, the tattooed youth and alleged poet demanded to know why I was still around. I told him politely that, as an employee of the mall, I had every right to be around. Then I sidestepped away from them, hoping that my body language would make it clear that this conversation was over. And because I was also a realistic person, I radioed for back up even as I was stepping away. My 10-13.

But that didn’t work out too well for me and so the delinquents…

…easily closed in and surrounded me in a semi-circle, hampering my movement and placing me in range of incoming strikes from four hostile opponents. IF things got that far and that bad. Luckily for me, they chose to begin hostilities by delivering a scolding in full view of passers-by and employees of the shops facing the street. The tough street kids turning the tables on the Establishment. That was probably what they thought. And given the titters from the row of four or five Ah Lians the boys had been chatting to and the unconcealed smiles on the faces of some shop employees spectating the fight, others in the audience probably thought so, too.

There. Is it not better than “S/O Loh advised the two boys not to ask for money at the mall” and “S/O Loh was threatened by four boys during his patrol”?

Teck Y. Loh


About Security Guard

Level 99 Security Guard

Posted on February 21, 2016, in Security Work, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Showing, rather than telling, always makes things more entertaining. Writing action is an enjoyable challenge – especially since you have so many possible scenarios that can creep from one scene you’ve imagined. Good luck with the delinquents.


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