The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Got a bit of actual work done, and now am looking at organizing some thoughts on Chapter 4. Not because I think I'll actually remember any of the organizing or the thoughts, but if I think it through once, I'll probably absorb at least a piece of it and it'll come back out later, as if I thought of it all on my own out of the blue.

But one thing that confuses me is what constitutes action. I think of action as being actual action, like jumping out of a helicopter or walking up a hill--going somewhere or doing something. But if you have people finding something out that they didn't know before, that furthers the story or creates conflict, is that action? It's not emotional development. What is it? I have a writer friend who insists that dialog is action, but I have thus far not been able to convince myself of it. I consistently have too many, or overly lengthy, talking-head scenes and have to fix them because it's boring. Therefore, I figure, dialog can't be action. Plus, if dialog was action, wouldn't My Dinner With Andre be an action flick? I dunno.

Maybe dialog is action in a very large sense, like if you outline the whole story you can say something like "Chapter 27--While cheating Winston in a poker game, Alice learns that he is actually her long-lost twin." The action, to me, is that they're playing poker. It's what they're doing. But maybe in the larger picture, the action is Alice learning that Winston is her twin brother. It's what moves the plot forward. Whereas the emotional story would be how that affects Alice and Winston, and the cheating develops character and reveals it to the reader.

But there's another thing. Sometimes the character learns something in a scene. Sometimes the reader learns something. Sometimes each learns something different. Sometimes multiple characters are learning different things at the same time. So which one is the action?

I am massively confused. I was trying to break down Chapter 4, but realized that there are multiple things going on (three characters are in this chapter; at least three that matter). Then I thought I could divide it up by character and by action/emotion and just sit and look at it for a while, feeling that I'd accomplished something--but my head is too muddled.

Okay, maybe I will just look at the emotional side of this chapter, divided by character. That's three things to consider, and I understand emotional arcs. And I think I found earlier in the ms that understanding the emotions in a scene helps plot it--but I'm not sure, because I'm muddled and confused and can't even remember what my own name is, at the moment.

G*d, I sound senile.

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