I find there are three types of marriages between dialogue and action scences:
1. Framing -- There's an exchange of words, then ass kicking, and then another exchange of words to confirm the fight is over and the plot is moving along.
2. Antagonisms -- This is during the action usually to incite an emotional response from the reader in addition to the action on page. Great for underdog scenes.
3. Directions -- Happens during action scenes involving more than two people. Kinda like in the WWE when the partner gets rung into the ring. "Sparkles, toss me the flail." "Twinky, behind you! It's the folding chair!"
In honor of schools returning to session, here's an action scene framed by dialogue from a WiP in which getting to school is only the beginning of our protagonist's problems:
“What the…” The captain spun the wheel, bringing the vessel hard about and wedging it between two pillars. The stern smacked into stone with enough force to rock the barge.
Pentr lost his balance and went overboard.
“Gods damn it.” Orias ran for the edge.
“No,” Halali shouted, crawling out of the heap. “They’ll drown you.”
“They’re going to drown him too,” Orias argued. “I’m not abandoning my partner.”
“Take this. Keep it dry.” She yanked the battered journal from her chest wraps. “You get help. I’ll get Pentr.”
“Kid, no, you’re the priority.” Orias knocked her aside and set foot on the edge of the barge.
The captain grabbed Orias’s injured arm and pulled him back. A third spear lodged in the decking.
“Those are Mara Mi down there," gasped the captain. "That spear is crafted for a woman, which
means those are Mara soldiers not Rearing delinquents. Whoever this kid is, those women want her badly. She can’t be worth getting yourself killed.”
Halali didn’t linger a breath longer. She dove into the blood cloud rising to the surface. Her eyes rapidly adjusted to the drifting darkness. Bells clanged above the water. Their cacophonous tone dulled with each stroke deeper into the canal.
Four armed Mara Mias waited for her. Four elementals from four different bloodlines within the House of Mara.
Innocence through collusion.
A fifth Mia held Pentr in a choke hold and drew him into the depths of the channel. Blood left a taunting trail. Halali lurched after them, but the swarm closed ranks. Ass-length hair denoting the Mara Mias’ caste as inheriting lines floated around them in great teal frames of deadly beauty. Two shouldered their spears. Two angled the weapons at Halali.
Harpoons shot through the surface. The swarm broke apart. The harpoons snapped out of the water. A second volley hit one of the Mias.
Halali used the distraction, diving deeply to swim beneath the dissipating blood trail. She lengthened her stroke, giving chase. One heart beat stronger than the other. The pores behind her jaw expanded, filtering air from the water. If she had to breathe, then Pentr did too. He was a common Yeden. The question wasn’t if he’d swallowed water, but if she could get it out of him in time.
In the darkness where the lights of the Rearing’s docks no longer reached, Halali spotted him. That he hadn’t surfaced betrayed the trap. She had no choice but to spring it if she wanted him to live.
He’d done the same for her.
Her hand dusted the end of the spear protruding from Pentr’s leg. The water around them rippled. The Fifth Mara Mia pulled together her essence, assembling her fleshy body from the element of her goddess. Halali yanked the spear from Pentr’s leg and used it to propel him towards the surface, praying buoyancy would do the rest.
“Sin of the weak,” sang the Mara Mia.
Halali swiped the spear through the reforming woman, but the Mia caught shaft in her solidified hand. The Mia slammed the butt of the spear into Halali’s face. Halali’s nose broke with a snap and a crunch. Her blood seeped forth.
Halali let go of the weapon.
Laughing, the wholly corporeal Mara Mia seized Halali by the neck and rode her toward the bottom of the channel. A flash of white disrupted the darkness.
Burning blossomed on Halali’s cheek.
More of Halali’s blood filled the water. Her second heart quickened. Twinned pulses thundering through her body pushed Halali past functioning fear into raw instinct. Halali wrapped her legs around the elemental and locked her heels behind the Mara Mia’s back. The elemental tightened her grip on Halali’s throat. The muscles along the Mara Mia’s back revealed her next attack. Halali caught the elemental’s other wrist, drawing it down as Halali bent back. The blade pierced the Mara Mia’s choking arm. The hand on Halali’s throat let go. Halali kept hold of the arm wielding the weapon and angled it toward the Mara Mia’s chest. Halali tightened her legs, drawing the Mara Mia toward her.
Blade connected with breast. Warm darkness oozed into the water.
Halali closed her hand on the hilt and twisted. The Mara Mia went limp between her thighs. Halali ripped the blade from the Mara Mia’s chest and swam for the surface, searching for Pentr on her ascent. She found the spear first, but there was no body impaled upon its point. She left the infernal spear to bob in the brightening layers of tainted water.
Dread sank like a loadstone in her stomach as she neared a solid wall of stone. The skirmish must have dragged her further away from Pentr and the trash barge than she’d realized.
A white sleeve thrust into the water. She jabbed the dagger in her pant leg and swam for the sign of sanctuary. Four hands hauled her from the battlefield and dragged her up to an orange stone dock.
Pentr lay on a stretcher. A hoary healer tended to his leg. Eight grizzly Rearing guards occupied the dock. Tethered harpoons lay at their feet.
Orias stepped from their ranks and handed her back her book. “You did well, kid. Damn well.”