1. essential life
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    essential life Member

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    My biggest problem is action...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by essential life, Sep 15, 2009.

    ...or it's one of my biggest problems.

    And I'm more into dramas and comedies, so I don't mean complicated action scenes, I mean more like body language and simple movements.

    I mean, let's say you have two people having a conversation that lasts about a chapter (or a short story, which is really what I'm into). They're really not doing too much, just standing around or sitting around. There's only so many ways you can write "he shrugged" or "he nodded", or "he rose", or "he shook his head", you know?

    And I'm never really sure of how much action to put in to make the thing work. You can't have just dialogue or introspection, you need that other stuff, but it's hard for me to come up with it and make it seem varied and interesting and real. It's like a chore to me. It's stuff that has to be in there for it to work, but it's also stuff that I hate having to come up with and makes me want to stop writing.

    Anyways, just a thing I have.
     
  2. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    Watch people’s habits. Tell the reader where the character is looking, or if they blushed at something embarrassing, or got exited and stood up. There are a lot of things two people can do while talking for a chapter.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Read. Mystery novels tend to focus on such nuances, so I'd recommend seeing how good mystery writers handle action, particularly in dialogue scenes.

    You'll get more from that kind of study than you will from advice given here (no offense to anyone on the site).
     
  4. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Reading and paying special attention to how the authors handle such scenes is very good advice.

    You may want to consider giving certain characters specific traits during such actions. For example, in Stephen King's Dark Tower, Rolland has a habit of moving his fingers in a rolling motion as if to say, "Come on, come on, let's go" when he's getting impatient.

    There is a lot of potential body language that one can use in addition to "he shrugged" or "he nodded", or "he rose", or "he shook his head." Consider the other senses besides sight (his fingers tapped, a grating sound on the desk; she coughed, emitting the smell of vodka and stale cigarettes.)

    Avoid adverbs in favor of description ("he breathed deeply" is not as good as "his chest rose as he inhaled the fresh summer air.") The occasional adverb is okay, but fewer adverbs = more showing and less telling.

    I hope this helped.

    Charlie
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Check out Abarat by Clive Barker. There are huge sections of dialog in that series. He basically uses action as another way of showing who's talking.

    Using bits of introspection is good too. I like when the character's thoughts contradict what they say.

    I hope he doesn't ask me to the movies again. I'll just say I'm busy.

    "Let's go watch that new flick."

    "Okay, sure," I said.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Decide wether all the he rose, she nodded, they genuflected is even needed. Are you manhandling the reader into seeing what you want them to see instead of letting the story impart these things?

    I think we all fall prey at some point or another to giving stage directions within a story when what we are really trying to add is detail.
     
  7. essential life
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    essential life Member

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    Sometimes, it seems forced when I try to add action.

    I tend to write the dialogue first, because for me the dialogue has to have a certain "beat" to it to make it sound natural, so I try to pay primary attention to it.

    And then I add in the thoughts to flesh everything out more.

    And then I find it relatively easy to know what description I need.

    But the action seems to come last and often seems to get in the way of the flow of the dialogue and everything else.
     
  8. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Good point.

    One of the things I love is when the movement is implied in the dialog.

    This technique is used often in Stranger In a Strange Land.

    "Don't go in there. Hey, what are you doing? Dad told us to never even touch the doornob."
     

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