You’re drafting a scene, and it dawns on you: this scene, like about a dozen others, has your characters sitting around drinking coffee, tea or fermented yak milk. How can you move your story without making every scene resemble a TV sitcom?
Writing Tip for Today: In real life we do sit around and talk a lot. Maybe that’s why “sit” coms feature the same thing. But scenes where your characters do nothing except sit and jaw are static and can easily become dialogue heavy or veer off into talking heads. Try these things to get some action into your scenes:
- Write like it’s a movie. If your scene drafts feature mostly dialogue, don’t worry. On revisions, weave action, sensory info and body language around the spoken parts later. Remember, for the reader to fully experience a scene, it should feel cinematic.
- Make your POV character work. Instead of letting your viewpoint character sit and talk, make him/her get up and do something. Characters that cook, clean, build fences or some other activity during scenes are easier for the reader to imagine than a character whose only moving part is the mouth.
- Make action purposeful. The characters should be doing things that matter to the story. If the story is about cars, let your characters do things other than drive them. Avoid having people doing random things. The reader will become confused if the action has little or nothing to do with the story goal.