One of my biggest fears while I’m writing is that there isn’t enough action in the story. There needs to be more than people talking. They need to be doing something. But, a story where things are always happening are exhausting. There needs to be a balance between the two.
Use everyday activity to break up static scenes. If characters need to think of how to solve the story problem, have them do something routine. If the hero is mulling over what their options are, then show them going through their daily routine. Then have someone chase them when they are on the way to work, if that fits your story.
Your story should flow like water down a stream. There are rocks in the stream that impede the flow a bit, but don’t stop it. This is a good way to visualize the plot.
Action, reflection, action, reflection, is another way to do it. Be aware, though that would be predictable. A better pattern would be the following. Action, reflection, action, action, reflection, action, reflection, action, action, action, reflect, reflect. You get what I mean.
It’s all about balance. Action writing versus passive writing is another form of this issue. The story should be like that rocky mountain stream. The rocks can’t stop the water, but they can slow it. Or speed it up, depending on the amount of water and the slope. Think of white water rafting. That’s action at its best. The flow of a lazy river can change in a heartbeat with the addition of a few rocks. That’s what the action scenes are. They break up the monotony. Too many rocks and a river becomes unnavigable. We don’t want that. Let your readers drift downstream a while then throw in a few rocks to make the flow go faster. Then let them drift again.
The trick is to make it seem natural, like a river. The plot should flow without stopping completely. But it shouldn’t be all easy flowing, there should be some white water in there to make the journey interesting. Too much easy flowing is boring. Too much white water is exhausting.
Balance is hard. We’ve all tried standing on one foot. It looks simple enough, but when you try it, it can be difficult. But, it is doable. It takes work, like anything worthwhile. Go ahead and write all your action scenes. Then write in the scenes that balance it and gives your reader a chance to breathe. That’s the key. Your characters, and your readers, need a respite. No matter how brief, before dropping over that waterfall to the end of the story. Give them that, and you will have a good story and happy readers.
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