Research is just as important here as it is elsewhere. You don't want to invoke Martial Arts Do Not Work That Way
or I Just Shot Marvin in the Face
, so whatever type of unarmed combat you're writing about, look at pictures/videos of it or read about it from nonfiction books so that you at least in theory, if not in practice, actually know how to use that fighting style. Same rule goes for combat that does involve weapons... research proper and improper ways to handle knives, guns, bows, swords, gopher chucks
For larger-scale battles, think of how each force is deployed and what their capabilities and limitations are. Research helps here, too... writing big, epic battles between armies requires some knowledge of tactics and logistics. It'd help to have a strategy in mind for each side before you start writing such a scene, too... if it's a siege, write it as a siege (which is much longer and slower — even boring, if you ask action guys like me who tend to write more Testosterone Poisoning
-oriented stuff) and not a quick and bloody battle.
Another writer who does good action scenes that you can emulate is Matt Stover
. Read Revenge of the Sith
, it'll really help you with anything involving swordplay. In fact, in general the Star Wars Expanded Universe
(which also includes two books by the aforementioned R.A. Salvatore
) tends to provide fairly well-written action scenes (though most of them are vehicle-oriented in some way; the X-Wing Series
can help you where that's concerned, if you're writing a lot of vehicular combat).
If you just want to not write action scenes at all, mimic the David Eddings
style of having the main protagonists stand on a hill and banter while battle rages below them, then one of the people involved in the battle comes up and uses dialogue to tell them what happened. It's easier to write if action doesn't come naturally to you, but be forewarned that it can frustrate some readers who will view it as a Missed Moment of Awesome
. Also, since you said dialogue is a weak point for you too, you should probably work on that if you want to use this technique. Well-written banter will get you enough haters (there's always someone who would prefer there be no banter at all); you don't want to be writing bad
You should probably also watch and/or read a little bit of Gorn
if you haven't already... it helps to know what's on the inside of the body so you can write battle damage more convincingly, and opening up a real person is presumably not a legal option in your area unless you can afford the time and money it would take to put yourself through medical school.
Hopefully some of this was helpful. I'm not sure what kind of action you were trying to write, so I tried to include as many different scenarios as I could.
Jesus saves. Gretzky steals, he scores!