4 Tips for Charging Your Plot with Action

Action drives your story and keeps your readers interested. Writing with effective action is fundamental to creating enticing lifestories.

1) The action of your story is its plot. Generally speaking, something must happen in your story to retain the interest of your reader. Some people have had roles in the political, economic, cultural life of their times. These people’s lives exhibit an external drama. They, just like those of us who have not had these roles, must find a way to convey their stories in a way that has internal rather than merely external drama.

The amount of action necessary to retain interest varies enormously according to the sensibility and the education of different readers. Someone who prefers reading about ghosts and unpredictable supernatural occurrences will not find the English psychological novelist Virginia Woolf very interesting. But it remains true that readers–both of pulp fiction and of serious writing–need some sort of action to move the story along. Although much of Virginia Woolf’s action is internalized, it counts as plot nonetheless.

2) The action of a story should start in the middle of things. If you are writing about the time you got fired from a job, don’t start with the first vocational aptitude test you took in high school. Instead, start when you are given a warning by a supervisor and get to the unhappy conclusion. Only with this sort of quick pacing will you keep the interest of the reader.

3) Explanations and background material are best given briefly, often preferably in phrases. Avoid the lengthy, informational flashback. Providing too much context can overwhelm your story and dissipate the energy of the action.

Avoid writing something like: Groveton, an industrial city founded in 1809 and having a large population of Slovaks who started coming in 1892, Hungarians who first migrated in 1896, Byelorussian who arrived in 1899, the Greeks whose numbers swelled after 1901, and Armenians who arrived around 1909, was the birthplace of my father.

4) To heighten the drama of your story, place your action in a context of historical movements. If you were the first woman in your family to get your own bank loan, you might mention how banks nationally were reacting to the phenomenon of two-worker families and responding to the realities of couples having separate financial lives. You might include how you were not raised to take responsibility for your own financial life and you might mention how others reacted. In so doing, you have created a panorama of a historical movement. You have created a larger context for your story, a situation that is peopled by an Everywoman!

By utilizing these four tips, you will write a story with an action-driven plot capable of catching your reader’s interest–and keeping it. Action is  key to better writing.

Good luck with your writing!

—For your FREE 36-page Memory List Question Book, go to http://turningmemories.com/qebkstore.html

Hiring a ghostwriter is an excellent choice when you feel you can’t write your book, when you do not have the time to write, or when you simply choose not to. A good ghostwriter will find your voice and use it to write a book that sounds just like you. I have been helping people to write their stories since 1988. A ghost can write as much of your book as you want  or simply assist you.

Call 207-353-5454 today for a free consultation about how we can collaborate to write your memoirs. Visit my site at http://turningmemories.com/memoirghostwriting.html. Next year at this time, you could be holding your memoirs in hand!

 

 

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About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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