(Craft) Doing It to Make It Real

Stories include action. In fact, action is essential to some scenes in your story. Without action, your characters have nothing to do, and characters who do nothing are boring.

So, how do you create realistic action in your stories?  One way is by doing the thing you are writing about.  For example, if you show a character building a sand castle at the beach, build one yourself if you have never done so.  Take note of what the wet sand feels like between your fingers as you sculpt. Notice the smell of the salt air as you take long breaths of it into your lungs. Describe the feel of the sunshine on your face and the sound of children chattering around you.

When we do the thing we are writing about, we notice details we may miss otherwise. And details are one of the elements that bring your story to life. For example, let’s say you are describing a 12-year-old girl baking a cake by herself for the first time. What would she do? What would she feel? For one thing, she’d pay careful attention to the ingredients and the order in which she is to place them in the bowl. She would feel excitement as she watches the cake rise in the oven.  She’d experience delight when her family enjoys the cake at dinner time.

Sometimes, when we describe actions simply from memory, we may forget a detail that could add life to our story. So doing the thing you are writing about can help you to recall those details.

I am not saying, however, that we must do everything we write about. Some things we write about we would not want to do. For example, if we write thrillers, we may not want to experience a dangerous car chase. Also, we would not want to do anything that would compromise our walk with Christ, such as stealing something, as one of our characters may do. Obviously, good judgment and discretion are involved here.

But when you can morally, ethically, legally, and feasibly do what you are writing about, use the opportunity to empower your description, your character motivation, and, as a result, your story.  In the process, you may also discover that you really do love dangerous car chases. (SMILE!)

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