Monday, January 13, 2020

ACTION, Revised Edition

So much in story depends on action, the movements between characters and, in many cases, the movements between the various aspects of a single character. Appropriate for the Revised Edition of The Fiction Writer's Handbook to begin with:

Story begins with action. Someone in the present moment does something or is done to. The protagonist acts or is acted upon.
Shakespeare knew this for a certainty in the early 1590's.  Romeo crashed a party for the daughter of the sworn enemies of his family. Primary action. Of course you have only to look at the first meeting between Romeo and Juliette. Proof of the pudding for how much this first action-reaction sequence mattered to Shakespeare; he shifted the narrative for their first exchange from his customary blank verse to a perfect (Shakespearean) sonnet.
In The Dublin Murders, a 2020 televised mash up of two early novels by the American-Irish writer, Tana French, a detective is sent to investigate the murder of a young girl in the same locale where he was a victim as a youngster.
Story begins when readers are then motivated to await the consequences of actions.
To put a fine point on the matter, consider the process known as inertia. A body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest continues its snooze. Each state is vulnerable to force, itself the personification of action.
When motion stops, story comes to a halt, takes on dramatic qualities such as introspection, recollection of past actions, and description, all associated with inaction. 
These qualities must earn their keep if they enter the narrative.
HINT:  Remember inertia. Readers have greater motivation to continue reading when the characters stay active.

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