"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, August 12, 2013

Action Propels Your Reader

Action is the essence of a story. When a reader picks up a book, it’s the action mentioned on the back cover or the first page of your story that pushes them to buy the book. Continuing action throughout your story will propel the reader through the pages to the end.

Are your characters, or you if it’s nonfiction, too brooding or reflective? Think about action and how you can turn a scene with too much pondering into movement.
If it’s a scene trying to pick out what to eat, have them decide they really want something only to have the person in front of them buy the last one. What happens now? Is your protagonist in such a bad mood that they make bad decisions which in turn cause an accident, ruin an event, or the rest of the day? Does an argument ensue with the restaurant getting them banned for life? Does the main character try bargaining with the patron for the desired purchase, and end up creating a friend or enemy?

All of these outcomes lend to interesting possibilities. Remember, when a character acts, a reader engages.
As a friend of mine often says “Would you rather read about a man thinking about death, or a man building his own coffin?”

Do you have any examples of creating better action? How are you doing on your WIP?


Unknown said...

I appreciate that you included nonfiction here. Too often we forget that nonfiction must also have a story arch and yes, action.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

“Would you rather read about a man thinking about death, or a man building his own coffin?”

I love that!

I'm struggling a bit with action in the first chapter of my new WIP. It opens with a funeral, funnily enough, and closes in a magistrate's office.

Kim Van Sickler said...

Building his own coffin! Much more interesting. That's one of the things I edit for--something happening while I'm trying to move the story forward. Because I do have a tendency to focus on dialogue and pivotal events and not enough on action in my rough draft.