Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Essence of Action, Plot, and Change

Tell Me a Story

I've been asked several times about action and plot. There seems to be some confusion regarding action. 

Janet W. was adamant that there would be NO action in her romantic novel. HER romance was going to be of the old-school, all hearts and roses. I had to disagree.

It is ESSENTIAL for every story to have action; be it romance, mystery, thriller or short story there must be action. Don't throw your arms up, action doesn't necessarily mean the 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am' type that modern blockbuster films seem to favour.

  • Action does not imply that protagonists should always be on the go.
  • Action does not mean constantly shifting the setting for your story.
  • Action emerges out of conflict between characters and/ or circumstance.
  • Action comes about through contradictory beliefs and qualities that gradually emerge and become apparent.
  • Action means an escalation of circumstances.
  • Action drives the story onward. A story is always about change; without change, there is no story.

Change, should be especially true for central characters, by the end of a story central characters should have grown in some way …. be it better or worse, they should have developed. This is action.

 So if action and change are what drive the story forward, what does the plot do?

  • Plot is the arrangement of actions.
  • Plot is the progression of fascinating happenings that cause change.
  • Plots MUST be sensible and valid. Twists of fate and acts of God are not allowed in modern writing!

Hope this clears things up a little.

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