Writing Advice: Focus on Action


As I’m sure we all know, action is what moves the plot of a story forward. Some of us, however, find it strangely difficult to write that action into our stories. I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes get bogged down in writing description and exposition. This can almost be a different kind of writer’s block. When you’re adding words to your story, but your story isn’t going anywhere, you can feel just as frustrated as when you’re not writing at all.

I recently read another blog post on Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds, in which he listed things that he sees wrong in stories he’s asked to read or review. No surprise here, one of the things he mentions is a lack of action. Wendig says that “something needs to happen. Or be in the midst of happening. Repeat after me: action, dialogue, action, dialogue. Quick description as connective tissue. Short, sharp shock. Activity over passivity.”

I love how Wendig says that description is “connective tissue.” Any time you stop to describe something, it should simply be leading from action to action, or from action to dialogue. Keep your characters talking or doing something at all times. Not only is this a good way to keep the story moving and keep yourself productive, it will also keep your readers engaged. Some readers may slog through pages and pages of description, but those readers are typically few and far between. Most people want to read about characters doing things and being proactive in their fictional worlds.

If you find yourself writing too much about your characters’ inner thoughts, or describing the world your characters are walking through, take a step back and ask yourself what action needs to be taking place at that moment in your story. If you can’t think of anything, search for some writing prompt generators online to give you some ideas.

Happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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