What is Staging? – Simply put giving Stage Directions to your character movements.
Too many descriptive movements will bog your writing and slow the pace. Yes, you need to describe movement, but not each and every one. Make them count, and pack a punch. Word choice is important!
As stated in Grammar Decoded Filler Words any directional is considered staging.
We’ll start simple…
Jake turned to evaluate his mates.
Turned to makes the verb evaluate sound passive.
Simply use the active verb here and the sentence carries the same meaning without the staging words.
Jake evaluated his mates.
A bit more complex…
I looked down at Jenny, her blue eyes twinkled up at me with humor.
I looked down at – ‘I looked’ is the POV Character in this instance and it is implied. ‘down at’ is directional, ‘up at me’, is too.
What is the important information here?
Jenny’s blue eyes twinkled with humor.
Even harder… Word Choice Staging
I picked up the sword off the ground and held it up for inspection before pushing it into Jared.
‘picked up, held it up, and pushing it into,’ are descriptive directions. Chose a stronger word and be clear to the reader.
I snatched the sword from the ground, inspected the tip, and stabbed Jared.
Gary jumped up out of his seat and ran out of the room.
Gary jumped from his seat and fled the room.
The hardest…Fight Scenes
Telling in Blue and Staging in Red
It felt like an eternity, but that moment finally came. Gary could feel Ben within arm’s reach behind him. He heard the soft click of the dead man’s switch being secured. When Gary felt Ben lean forward to grab Gary’s arms, Gary struck. He fell to the side, twisting to face Ben, and lashed out with one leg. He caught Ben just above the knee and collapsed that leg. Gary rolled to a three point stance as Ben fell heavily face first.
An eternity passed until Ben crept behind Gary.
Ben secured his dead man’s switch with a soft click, and tried to grab Gary’s arms.
Gary struck. He twisted to face Ben and kicked. He caught Ben above the knee and collapsed his leg. Gary rolled into a fighting stance as Ben slammed face first into the cement.
Gary contemplated trying for a weapon but Ben was fast enough Gary didn’t think he’d make it. It looked like he was going to get his wish to beat Ben into a black and blue bloody mess. He rose to his feet as Ben picked himself up. Ben’s hands and face were scrapped and bloody. Gary noticed he also favored the knee Gary’d kicked out.
Should I go for a weapon? Probably won’t make it, Ben is fast. Woohoo wish granted. I’ll just have to beat him into a black and blue, bloody mess. Gary jumped to his feet as Ben managed to stand. Ben’s hands were scrapped and bloody. He’s favoring that knee I kicked too.
Ben went for the dead man’s switch clipped to his vest. Gary launched himself at Ben tackling the shorter man to the ground. The impact with Gary’s added weight drove the air from Ben’s lungs. Gary ripped the switch off Ben’s vest, bent the wire catch to more securely fasten the trigger and tucked it into an inside pocket in his suit. He had to trust it would be secure enough there to keep the switch from activating. But taking the time to secure the switch lost Gary the advantage he had just won. Ben got his breath back, kneed Gary in the back and shrimped out from under him. He rolled to his feet and charged Gary.
Ben went for his switch, but Gary launched and tackled the shorter man.
Swoosh, the air exploded from Ben’s lungs.
Gary ripped the switch from Ben’s vest, bent the wire catch, and tucked it into his suit. Hope it’s secure enough…No time for that.
Ben kneed him in the kidney and shrimped from under him. He rolled to his feet and charged.
Gary made it back to a three-point stance again before Ben made it to him. He moved with Ben’s momentum, redirecting the energy to pass him instead of bowl him over. As Ben carried past Gary, he brought one arm up to chop at Ben’s throat hoping Ben’s own weight would increase the impact to his throat. Gary missed, catching Ben’s collarbone instead. He felt a snap as the bone gave way.
Gary made it to fighting stance before Ben’s charge hit. He deflected Ben’s momentum and as he passed, Gary chopped his throat. He missed catching Ben’s collarbone instead. The bone gave way with a horrible snap.
Ben cursed vociferously. He rolled awkwardly to one side and got up, being careful to guard his now useless right arm. Gary saw the evil glint suddenly light up Ben’s face. Ben reached over his shoulder and pulled out a K-bar. Ben feinted several times before bringing the knife down in an overhand slashing attack. Gary countered the blow with his left arm, earning a good sized gash in the process, and wrapped his arm around Ben’s hand and arm. But it forced Ben’s arm down and into a position where Gary was able to trap it under his arm. Ben tried to pull away but couldn’t. Gary kicked out at Ben’s good leg just above the ankle. Ben’s foot rolled. The man half fell. Only Gary’s grip on Ben’s arm kept him from hitting the ground. It also served to hyper-extend and break Ben’s elbow.
How would you fix this paragraph?
Note: Sometimes you need a directional, or staging for the sentence/scene to make sense. So, the old saying, understand a rule before breaking it, is the point, and overuse the problem.