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Sources of Inspiration: Action During Dialogue

The very first thing which comes to me in a story is the dialogue. Perhaps it’s just a single line uttered by one of my characters and a response to this. Once that pops into my head, an entire scene blossoms around it.

Most of my stories have a lot of dialogue, but there’s a wealth of action around character convesation I have yet to explore. The movements, the interactions of the characters with the setting; I’m too easily distracted from this when I’m writing. Seeing effective use of them, a character playing with a statue similar to a creature whom appears and haunts his dreams while he’s talking brought home to me how much these little movements can push plot and character development forward.

I rely too much on eye contact, which fascinates me due to its intense intimacy. Other actions exist, ones which could bring my characters into focus, teaching me more about them. Their movements, how they interact with their setting can offer clues about where they’re going, evoking a rhythm in the plot. Readers become part of this movement, drawn into the characters’ actions, advancing along with them.

I’m still fumbling about at this art, trying to figure out these movements. I’ve only just become aware of this after watching an excellent series where the elements of action, setting, and dialogue came together in a seamless stream of input, coming at the viewer from all sides. The main character picked up an object, which symbolized the terror and peril he was going through, even while he was talking to his adversary. This was one of many actions which came together like a beautiful dance in the scene, linking the scene to the overall plot.

I’d like to be able to make my words dance, to draw the movements of the characters into their dialogue in a coordinated stream of action, making the overall story more fluid. It’s an art I long to polish and fine-tune.

How about you, dear reader? What action scenes have you used to enhance your dialogue, advance your plots? Did one ever bring everything together? What moves coordinated with your conversation to create a particularly satisfying scene?


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