Action Kills Your Novel

This is a comment I’m sure other writers will come at me with pitch forks screaming blood murder. But I’m sticking to my guns here. Action, more importantly, too much action, will kill your novel.

Let me explain…

Dialog versus Narration:

Current trends say that you should have some sort of even ratio of dialog to narration. As if by some miracle, having the characters tell the reader what’s going on frees the burden of “telling” from the author. Not true. If a character tells, it’s still telling and it’s still wrong.

Next, very few great books are written in dialog only. Most don’t even have a ratio coming anywhere CLOSE to even Steven. Why? Because the world does happen when people are talking. It’s teh author’s job to make the narration not FEEL like telling. It’s not the author’s job to get fat and lazy and let the characters “say” it and therefore walk away unscathed by the “show, don’t tell” police.

The To-Be Verb Being Verbed Out

This one I’ve commented on before. To be verbs are not bad, but they are shunned by most writers now. They think that by shoving action down the readers Optic Nerves, they will enjoy the novel more. Not true. Most authors use the To Be verb constantly. Why? Because it’s a stative verb. It tells what is or is not. If all your story does is throw things and scream, you kill the story.

This is a hold out from all the amateur teachings of “use more active verbs.” Which is true. One should always use more active verbs when possible. But once you know the rules, break them. This is an amateur rule. This is like someone telling you, always preheat the oven before you start mixing stuff. If you’re a chef, you’ll start that fricken oven whenever you need to.

Lulls are Essential

It’s rare in life that we live the life of an action hero 24 hours a day. Even John McClane had a day off. And the only way to truely feel FOR John, is to give us some reason to care. Guns blazing and bad guys dying is great. But without a reason to care, John’s just another action adventure cowboy.

Lulls, or what seem to count as lulls as of late, are necessary pieces of the puzzle. They aren’t lulls. They are story. That’s right STORY. Something far removed apparently from the lexicon. They are back story, they are character finding themselves, wondering about life and the world.

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