"I'm getting Appa back!" the Avatar yelled. "Dai Li agents are weird..." (11)
And then the Avatar ran off to go find his bison, deciding to act like he never met Yuhan. (9,12,13)
The agent awoke the next day with no memory of his revelation, and it turned out just to be delusional behavior caused by sleep-deprivation after all. No one would ever know of his brief moment of insanity...or truth...
WELL...that totally made sense, didn't it? Were you able to see in your mind what happened? If so, you'd still be surprised how much clearer you could be able to see it. Reference the numbered labels for the examples in the passage as you go over the points below.
THE FIX LIST
1) Setting isn't from the reader's point of view, so don't act like you're talking to them. Describe it from what your character experiences; it makes it a whole lot less dull, anyhow.
2) You're still not supposed to be talking to the reader. Introducing your character shouldn't sound like a documentary. Make it more natural, and always think from their point of view. This is what lets readers see their personality.
3) How tired is tired? We aren't told. It's important to go in-depth for a character's physical state, especially if it's not a healthy one. In this example we just know that he's tired...and that's about it. Go on!
4) If a new speaker comes out of nowhere, we'll need some more details other than the quotations alone, or it'll feel completely random. Also, you should indicate that it truly does come out of nowhere. So basically, make sure you capture the nature of unexpected actions.
5) One of the most important ones. Emotions are a big part of action scenes too, and you just can't name them as they occur. Write under the assumption that the reader has no idea what every emotion means, and that you have to show them what it looks like and how it feels. This keeps your character's reactions to anything realistic and relatable.
6) THE most important. "He (insert element)bended" doesn't do anything to tell the reader what's happening. Would you be happy with an explanation of "She made the goal by playing soccer"? It's probably best to know exactly how she played. So don't do the same thing to bending. Also, a person doesn't just stand there while their attack is delivered. What are they doing, and what movements are involved? Same goes for the person being attacked, who isn't just going to watch as their opponent prepares to strike. What's going on on both sides? Tell us.
7) Do not describe a character's actions in a biased tone. This starts changing the story to the writer's point of view...and your character is the one experiencing this, not you! If something was "way too easy" or "felt like nothing," make sure it applies to the character's inner feelings and not because you like them better or are purposely trying to make another character look lame.
8) Don't completely skip the "journey" of the element being bent. How was it "sent" exactly, and where did the rock (or whatever's being used) end up going if it missed? How hard did it hit if it didn't miss, and how badly did the victim take the blow? These details are all important.
9) Any thought process or opinionated statement needs a reason. Conclusive points in a story all need backup details, such as a decision someone made, an opinion they hold, or even stating who's the better earthbender (what does the battle look like that makes it seem so?). This is critical if a big conclusion was made, such as someone thinking they're going to die (what made them think that? Is it purely the pain, or are they feeling utterly helpless?). Using the fact that someone's a certain type of bender or that they're good at it also doesn't suffice as a good reason, either. This affects both character development and believability in writing.
10) Don't forget who your characters are just because they're fighting. Pay close attention when deciding what someone says, because out-of-character statements will stick out to any reader who knows the show and will interrupt the fight experience with its oddness. This is also effective when hinting who someone is before actually revealing them.
11) Sometimes you're so excited to continue describing the fighting that you throw down the dialogue just to get it over with. But if you have dialogue, don't skip the details of the speakers. It'll start to sound dull if you list a bunch of quotations without a single "said/laughed/yelled/other word describing dialogue, etc." Those kinds of words don't have to be used every time, and things like expressions and hand gestures can be used in their place as well - but the detail still has to be there.
12) Beware of using overly simple descriptions, because they can be broad. In one of the examples here, rocks that "fall down all over" someone can do so in many ways, so you have to specify.
13) Remember...fanons are made to introduce new ideas - ones that don't actually exist and are often unusual. I just used an extreme example by actually having a character "know" the author. If an idea is unusual to the world of Avatar, then it's going to be unusual to the characters too. You can't casually work in a new and bizzare concept without the appropriate reactions from the characters. If you created a world where they view your bizzare concept as common, though, then prove that it's possible. Extra elaboration on your characters' attitudes towards your ideas is crucial to keeping your fanon world making sense. It also lets us know what the purpose of the idea is in the first place. (In my case, it's supposed to indicate that no one would think Yuhan is sane for saying those things and that it's not actually an idea I'm trying to make you believe).
(Exhales) Finally...let's try writing the scene again, shall we? I've left the numbers in place for comparison and so that you can reference the list again to really see how the principles were put into place.
Yuhan dragged himself back beneath Lake Laogai, sighing as the world faded away into the dark and gloomy headquarters of the Dai Li. (1) For a 21-year-old, he wasn't enjoying his youth at all, and his apparently "special" earthbending talent only made life harder, if anything. (2) Ironically, Long Feng found young age and talent to be the perfect combination in a useful agent - so useful that Yuhan was now reduced to a sleep-deprived zombie in green robes. He longed for the day he could just flop down on a fluffy bed and fade away into the bliss of sleep forever. Even death sounded better than his current state sometimes, if it meant resting. (3)
"Hey!" (4) shouted a sharp, young voice from behind. The gloomy silence came to a screeching halt.
Yuhan had barely turned around to look when a rock suddenly soared towards him, and his head still hadn't registered what just happened even as he jumped out of the way. As the boulder crashed loudly against the wall behind him, he twisted his head towards the speaker. He felt his insides drop for a moment after realizing that the attacker was a member of his own organization. (5)"What was that for?!" he yelled, still in disbelief that the Dai Li contained a traitor, but the other agent only hurled another boulder at him, chucking it across the hall with his arms. Yuhan leapt to the side and allowed the stone to roll past him, then shot his palms forward to release the hard plates of stone encasing them. The rock gloves immediately shot through the air, clenching their fists in preparation for impact. (6)
The other agent seemed to dodge the gloves with little effort, (7) and the fact that he had a strangely short and small figure made him even harder to hit. Yuhan wanted to slap himself in the face for completely wasting his gloves as they flew out of sight. The attacker proceeded to throw his arms high towards the ceiling, causing a massive wall of earth from below to rise with them. After a hard shove from his palms, the thick barrier lurched forward at Yuhan, cracking the ground badly as it scraped across the floor. (6)
Using his stone shoes for adhesion, Yuhan frantically dashed up the side the hallway to try outrunning the wall, and he barely managed to jump over its towering edge as it shot below him. He landed clumsily and stumbled over onto a knee, his breaths beginning to grow heavier as sweat dripped down his forehead. He'd lost too much sleep today, and he wasn't going to last at this rate...but he had to try anyway. (5) The agent took a deep breath before jumping to his feet and kicking up the largest boulder he could from the ground. It remained hovering for a split second before he twisted his body through the air and gave it a second and much harder kick, sending it spiraling with lightning speed towards the enemy. (8)
Their battle continued on in this manner for what seemed like a thousand years, with each agent struggling to maintain a stronger will over the earth than the other. Stone barriers, boulders, and rock fragments of all shapes and sizes flew back and forth across the shadowy hallway, which was now unrecognizable from the countless cracks it suffered. ('12)' As time continued to drag by, however,Yuhan proved to be the more experienced earthbender. His attacks remained crisp and solid, while his opponent's movements began to grow sloppy from being worn down by the continual shoving of heavy stone. (9)
"Monkey feathers! Why can't I get it right? I'm so bad at earthbending!" the other agent suddenly exclaimed, throwing up his skinny arms in frustration. (10)
Yuhan paused for a moment, one of his brows rising involuntarily above the other. (5)"You're a Dai Li agent...aren't you supposed to be pretty comfortable with earthbending?" he asked dully, his tone turning a bit skeptical. What else was he supposed to say to that? (5)
"No..." slowly replied the other agent, his ominous voice seeming to indicate some horrible revelation. (10)
"What do you mean? This is stupid!" Yuhan scowled, throwing his arms up in expasperation. He began to wonder if he'd lost too much sleep and was imagining this, since everything still made absolutely no sense. (13)
"I've never liked earthbending!" yelled his opponent. "That's it - I'm tired of pretending, and I'm sick of bending earth like the people who took my best friend!" (10,11)
Maybe it was just him, but Yuhan suddenly had the feeling that something other than earth was beginning to shift dangerously about them. "I don't know what you're talking about! Did you get brainwashed by accident or something? You sound insane!" he replied crossly, though he began to back away cautiously. There was something ominous about his opponent that he just couldn't explain. The sooner he could take this freakish agent down, the better. (9) Deciding not to pursue the bizarre conversation any longer, Yuhan slowly lifted his arms, feeling the massive weight of the earth below him and pulling on it as hard as he could. A life-sized boulder gradually forced its way into the air above him as it separated itself from the ground. (12)
His opponent began to prepare a stance that didn't resemble earthbending in the slightest; his feet suddenly loosened their position on the ground, and his arms relaxed as they positioned themselves forward, his small fingers fanning out. Yuhan tried to ignore this as he continued to stretch his own arms apart, which shook slightly from upholding the massive weight above his head. (6)The boulder began to crackle all over as it followed his motions and slowly began breaking apart. Each of the pieces separated from one another in sharp fragments. As soon as Yuhan had finished positioning them so that their points were all directed towards his opponent, he threw down his arms in one heavy swipe. The newly-made spikes showered down like a massive blur of needles, travelling so fast that they were impossible to distinguish from one another. (12)
A deafening howl of wind filled the dark hallway, and all of the spikes suddenly scattered away in all directions from the other agent. None of them had even touched his skin. (1'2)' Yuhan's mouth hung open as his arms dropped limply to his sides. His opponent had deflected the blow using...it couldn't be... (5)
Before he had any time to finish his thought, the other agent threw his palms forward. Yuhan felt the unearthly force once again, this time slapping hard against him and flinging him backwards with enough speed so that his body struck the wall at the end of the hallway with a sickening crack.(12)
It felt like the air had been knocked straight out of his lungs, and his whole body went numb. "Who...are you..." Yuhan wheezed, his head still spinning and disoriented from the blunt impact. (9)
His opponent began to step forward as he pulled off his hat and threw it against the floor. His young grey eyes were narrowed and seething with rage, and above them was tattooed a blue arrow that stood out against the light, bare skin of his head. (12) Yuhan's face went pale. There was really no need for an explanation at this point.
The Avatar charged towards the agent, the wind whipping wildly about his arms as he spiraled them through the air.(6,8)
Seeing as he still couldn't feel half his body, and that he was watching the master of all four elements approaching him with murderous intent, Yuhan was quite sure that these were his last moments. He slowly shut his eyes to brace himself. (9)
Right before it struck his face, Yuhan felt the sharp air disperse, causing his hat to fly back lopsidedly.(12) The Avatar glared down at him. "Tell me where Appa is!" he demanded, still holding out a threatening palm. (10,11)
There was a brief silence. "Who's Appa?" the agent finally asked, blinking a couple of times.
"My flying bison that you stole!" the Avatar shot back, his rage producing another burst of uncontrolled wind that flapped both their robes violently. (11)
"Oh, that?" Yuhan exclaimed suddenly. "Didn't Prince Zuko free it just now, and aren't you supposed to be running away from us with your friends until Appa comes back and flings us all into Lake Laogai?" (13)
A very awkward silence began to creep over them both. "...What?" The Avatar stood back a little.
Yuhan was just as puzzled as his opponent. His words seemed to come from some unearthly, divine source of knowledge...but it was right. For some reason, it was right. "I don't know how..." he continued uncertainly. "I just know that it's supposed to happen." He couldn't think of a better way to word it.
"But I infiltrated headquarters to get him back!" scowled the Avatar, tugging at one of his emerald uniform sleeves as if to emphasize that he had no help coming down here. (11,13)
"Well, that's just how Mike and Bryan wrote it." The bizarre words only continuing spilling from Yuhan's mouth without warning, and even he had to stop himself this time. "Wait, how did I know that?" Where were his thoughts coming from? Maybe he truly lost too much sleep today...
It suddenly hit him all at once. He didn't know where his thoughts were coming from because someone else was creating them for him - everything he did, even at this moment. Maybe the truth had been kept from him until now because he was about to die or something. Who knew? Or maybe it was just a matter of extreme sleep-deprivation. But whatever it was, he couldn't be more sure of himself. He finally smiled (causing the Avatar to raise an eyebrow). The world was truly a crazy place...but there was really nothing he could do. Yuhan was an OC, and he'd just been told. "Oh, the author has graced me with crucial knowledge of my fate," he explained matter-of-factly, shrugging a little. "It all makes sense now. But we should start doing things like the canon story says since she has no idea where this weird scene is going anymore." Strange how this 'author' had also let him in on the details of his future...perhaps there was a purpose? The Avatar didn't know about those 'plans', after all. Yuhan's smile only grew wider and more bizarre-looking as the realization dawned over his face.'('12)"Or...I could CHANGE my fate and you won't get your bison back!" With that, he suddenly jumped to his feet and slammed his fist into the wall behind him, causing a massive chunk of rock to fly out of it and towards the Avatar, who still appeared too disturbed to even register it in time. (6,9,13)
Unfortunately for Yuhan, his opponent had lightning-fast reflexes, seeing as he nimbly dodged the rock at the very last minute, leaping over its edge and still landing lightly on his feet without losing balance whatsoever. The rumbles echoed into the distance as the mass of stone rolled away uselessly. "Y-you're the crazy one!" shouted the young Avatar, somewhat fearfully, before thrusting a rigid palm forward and unleashing one final burst of air before Yuhan could react. The overwhelming force knocked out all of the remaining energy from the agent's body, and he dropped unconsciously to the ground. (8,9,12)
"I'm getting Appa back!" the Avatar yelled in the silence. He examined the still body on the ground for a long moment. "Dai Li agents are weird..." he concluded, turning slowly around. (11)
With that, the Avatar disappeared down the shadowy hallway and continued his pursuit of the lost sky bison, deciding that it was best to forget about this incident. He hoped that someone could help the agent, whatever he suffered from. (9,12,13)
Yuhan awoke the next day with no memory of his revelation, and it turned out just to be delusional behavior caused by sleep-deprivation after all. No one would ever know of his brief moment of insanity...or truth...
First thing you probably noticed is how much longer the fight scene became. Action requires lots of description, and it takes lots of time as well. Also, many of my points were not purely action-based, and that's because the details that lead to the action are just as important. I know that my characterization of Aang (and my OC) is still pretty weird - well, my entire passage was weird in general - but I wrote it mainly to explore the physical aspects of action and character reactions, which are basically the two critical points out of that list of 13 flaws. I also threw in random things to point that even ridiculous ideas need lots of care when writing about them, which goes to show that humorous fanons require just as much intricate detail as solemn ones.
This list is only my personal approach to writing action and how I believe authors here can improve their own action scenes, so you don't have to take everything word for word. Just look deep into your writing as you craft the fight, and you'll soon have your own mental "list" of principles as well. I just hope that this may be able to get you started. Looking forward to seeing more of everyone's work in the fanon portal soon!