Jonesing For Action


IMG_8423For the rewrite of my latest novel, I’ve decided to cut several wonderful themes and plot points that involve cartoony physical action, which I love. It’s lights, camera, action! Not lights, camera, brooding introspection.

I’m trying to change. Action scenes can be a substitute for thoughtful writing. If I could write better, more realistic, rounded characters, I could always go back later and add action, but changing a habit is bicycling uphill.

I hate to see all that good action go to the scraps file. Die, die, my darlings! I’m now focusing on psychological development of the character through revelation of her secrets.

My instinct says secrets, shmeecrets. I struggle when writing about useless, egocentric passions. It’s more fun to stage a fistfight or a break-in. They say write what you love, but if I only did that, how would I develop as a writer? I have to get through this withdrawal before I can make a rational choice.

In the previous version, MC jumped naked off a Mississippi riverboat at night. That’s what I want to happen, dammit. But even though MC still must go aboard the paddle-wheeler to confront the villain, I am determined she will leave the boat by walking down the ramp when it docks. That prospect seems frustratingly sedate right now, but I’ll make it happen. Cold turkey.

Realistic characters simply do not jump off ships at night and swim through the cold, muddy Mississippi then stumble through a rail yard looking for shelter. James Bond would do that, Halle Berry would do that, but not my MC, who is a real person struggling with her damn psychological and family issues. Discipline!

After cutting the most outrageous action from my outline, I may finish with a low word count, which will be okay, because I’ll need to go back in later and do more descriptive material. First I need to walk calmly down the ramp to the end of the story. Once I’ve been clean and sober for a while, I’ll take another look at action.


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