1. Mystery Meat
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    Mystery Meat Member

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    No action, all development stories. Ideas?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mystery Meat, Mar 10, 2011.

    I am writing a short story at the moment that will revolve around a static setting, with two primary characters - one who is leading the other to a personal epiphany through a retelling of their (the first character's) life story. My concern at the moment is that the scenes within the story are quite flat (lots of drinking, fidgeting, etc). The characters are starting to really develop some depth but I am afraid that the reader will not bother with the story to find this out for themselves if nothing is really happening.

    I can see three of ways that this could be handled; lots of "hooks" to keep the reader guessing, strong active language (to give the illusion of activity) or recollections by the first character that involve a lot of action themselves.

    What is your opinion on the best form for such a story? Are there any good examples?

    Apologies if my question is not quite clear, I have written it down in the first few minutes of quiet that I have found all evening.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I'm a bit unsure as to why you think it needs action to be interesting. If it's not an action story, why shoehorn it in?

    To me, it sounds like you have a highly character-based, and dialogue-based story. And I don't see a problem by that in itself. The writing still has to be good, yes, but it doesn't need to be running around, exploding or whatever.

    I think this might be a problem were it something longer, like a novel or a novella, but I see nothing wrong with it as a short story.
     
  3. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    The story he's telling should be exciting enough to keep the interest of the other character, at least.

    As far as the two characters conversing, their setting might provide them things to fidget with.

    An example that I'm working with is that they're playing chess while discussing some matters. Of course, the game itself is giving insight, (or should, once I get back to that rewrite.)
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is a very famous French poem by Jacques Prévert which you can probably find in translation, called 'Déjeuner du matin' i.e. 'Breakfast'. The whole poem is a woman giving a list of ordinary everyday actions as her husband/lover sits having breakfast with her, something like:
    'He drank the coffee
    And he put down the cup
    Without speaking to me' etc
    I remember the whole class was upset by it when I did it as a child at high school, in a kind of Jean-Brodie-esque moment. Prévert uses all these mundane actions to illustrate the gulf between two people who obviously loved each other once.
    The 'action' does not need to be leaping around movement. These little telling actions and mannerisms can speak volumes.
    I suggest you look up the poem!
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Look up Alan Bennett's Talking Heads some are on Youtube. They are monologues and include very little 'action.' They are wonderful even after twenty years I had a clear recollection of some of them.
     
  6. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Drinking and fidgeting is okay if you could bring out some kind of tension between the two chars. To do that you might try asking, first of all, why is the char retelling the stories to the other char?(which I think you already know). Secondly, ask why is the second char listening to the stories? Now, if they have different reasons, you have a small conflict/tension (which might have very little to do with the larger conflict(s) of the overall story) between the two chars, and as long as you show it, I don't think I'll mind the drinking and the fidgeting. Good luck.
     
  7. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed. Banzai has basically said what I was going to.
     
  8. Mystery Meat
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    Mystery Meat Member

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    Thanks for the response. Apologies about the delay in getting back to this thread but my time is not so much mine these days.

    I will review these suggestions and try to reshape the story.
     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Spot on.
     
  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    There has to be some sort of tension or conflict in the dialogue for me to keep reading. This could turn out good, but don't make it passive - I hate the stories where it's just someone sitting around drinking with their friend and that's all there is to it, or someone sitting on a train looking out the window reminiscing.
     

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