Every story — even the most literary, introspective story — needs action. Stuff must happen. Action is the agent of change and your characters must change (even for a moment) or face an opportunity for change, for your story to interest people. “Stuff happening” is what gives you the opportunity to show that opportunity for change.
Write A Story Wrapped Around An Action Scene
- “Action Scene” does not dictate something breathless like a car chase. Any kind of act around which the characters can swirl will do. (I recently listened to a story in which the only action was a priest coming to visit an old woman, but it was built up beautifully with backstory and foreshadowing so that it was the fulcrum on which the characters’ stories hinged.
- Think of an ‘action’ that would be interesting to you to write about (this is where ‘write what you know can come in handy. Someone knitting a sweater might not sound interesting to you, but I could give it all kinds of detail that would make it realistic).
- Remember that external actions (however small) can reflect internal tensions, decisions and change (my knitter could drop stitches, pull the yarn too tight, suddenly wrench out the needle and begin unravelling months’ worth of work…there are some pretty dramatic and symbolic possibilities there!)
- When you have thought of a central action, make sure you delve into the characters you are going to use. Who is this story about? Why do they matter? Why is the action in the story significant to their internal journey?
- Vary the pace. Put the action at the start, slap in the middle or right at the end, but make sure the rest of the story builds up to or down from or around the action. Change the intensity of the language, the drama…vary the sentence structure to keep readers on their toes.
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