Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to prefer to write my fast-paced scenes very quickly. Unfortunately, while it seems exciting as I’m writing it, when I go back to read the passage it’s a mess. So, I’ve gotten in the habit of sketching the scene quickly, then immediately going back over it so that I can improve each sentence very slowly, concentrating on each word, so each moment can exert the maximum punch in minimum time.
The effect is remarkably different. A fast-paced scene isn’t just one that can be read quickly. A fast-paced scene is one that is packed full of valuable information—that can be read quickly. In fact, the best of them can be read so quickly the reader comes out of it wondering, “Okay, so what was that!?!” Keep in mind, however, that we’re going for exhilaration here, not confusion.
It’s not that readers don’t know what happened—unless there’s a hidden mystery embedded in the scene, which is a good trick. It’s just that it takes them a bit of time to process it. This is realistic, which is why it works, which is why you want to create that effect, which is why you want to give them a moment to process it after you’re done, which isn’t a bad idea for the character, too.
It’s like this: You know you want short sentences, for the most part. But you don’t want “I Can Read;” you want “Dr. Seuss.” The difference is that “I Can Read” is simple and straightforward, which makes it easy to read. “Dr. Seuss” isn’t simple and it most certainly isn’t straightforward, but it’s easy to read and rather lyrical. You don’t necessarily want lyrical—though you can write lyrically if it works for your story—but you do want “deceptively complex,” which is what Dr. Seuss did so well. You also want “fun,” in the sense that you want the right kind of entertainment for your story, which might mean “fun to be terrorized.”
So, go ahead and write fast. Then, right away, go back and slow it down. Make your words really work for your story. Sure, you do that with every passage—at least you should—but it’s even more important in these fast-paced scenes. You want to make each and every one of them do some heavy lifting.