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Physical actions bring to life the scenes you write

Last month Book Daily published my blog on how physical actions enable the reader to imagine your scene more vividly. For example:

When Mabel asks Tom “Do you love me?” does he say “Yes” with passion or indifference? Instead of relying on an adverb to make Tom’s meaning clear, report the action that accompanies his words. Is he looking into his cell phone texting his paramour? Or does he put his phone down and hug Mabel? Consider using physical actions to clarify Tom’s meaning. Better yet, make the actions do even more.

Use physical actions to break up a long explanation. I like to have my characters eat while they’re explaining something. Then, in the midst of their explanation, they can pause to drain their water goblet, fish out an olive, twirl the stem of their wine glass, grab a second piece of pie, or pop cashews into their mouth. And their companions can do the same.

Moreover, you can use their physical actions to illuminate their personality. Do they grab a bunch of french fries with their fingers, or do they spear each one with a fork? Does the wine trickle down the side of their mouth, or do they take a single sip and then wipe their mouth with a napkin? Do they stuff their mouth, talk when it’s full, or spray crumbs of food and then lick their lips?

Are your characters having dinner together? Listening to a concert? Picking flowers? Cooking dinner? Riding in a car? Whatever the situation, inject physical actions to break up long explanations, illuminate your characters’ personality, and make the scene more vivid.

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