Sequencing human interaction #AuthorToolboxBlogHop
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Thank you Raimey!
When we speak, a series of steps has already occurred:
- An external action
- An emotional reaction
- A thought blooms from the above mentioned steps.
The result is return dialogue or reactive action.
It’s human nature.
Writing scenes and paragraphs should ideally follow the same logic we use when we speak or react.
Writer’s Digest suggests: “… get your reader to invest emotionally in your character, and you’ve laid the foundation for every action scene.”
A year ago, I came across a writing article on sequencing sentences. I hadn’t thought about the pattern of action, emotion, thought and reaction. I didn’t know how much it mattered until I wrote for it. I wish I could find the article and share it today. *Big shoulder sigh.* I lost it in the move to my new home over the summer.
Consider two examples:
The moment Henry stepped out of the door of his apartment complex, he shivered with a chill then violently sneezed three times. With his shoulders arched up, he froze under the awning. Germs. He hated them. They hated him. Or at least he’d pictured it as an even exchange to survive.
Henry’s hand trembled as he reached into his back pocket for his hand sanitizer, but stopped short with his thumb resting on the ridges of the cap. Something in the wind drew him. A cry so soft it couldn’t be a man or woman. A lamb? No, not in L.A.
He listened, shuffling down another couple of steps to the paved walkway.
There. In the shadows. The barely there cry came again.
The moment Henry stepped out the door of his apartment complex, he shivered with a chill then violently sneezed three times. He removed his sanitizer from his back pocket and shuffled down the steps. Cars zoomed past the street. The wind tickled his nose. He shuffled backwards and peered around the corner of the building. He swore he heard a sound. A cry. Soft, like a lamb, urgent and hungry.
In the first example, Henry is moving, leaving his apartment when an outside irritant stings his nose and he sneezes (external influence/action). He hates sneezing (thinking). He reacts to his phobia of germs and reaches in his pocket for his hand sanitizer (result of what we are thinking).
In the second passage, we go from action to action to action. We miss a point about the character. We miss his phobia. We miss the connection between the first action and the second action. Then we miss the reason why he turned and went back to the building.
So as we write, don’t forget motive, intention, and the process which leads our characters into action. Write for logic and sequence.