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What You Don’t Want to Write in Your Rising Action

If you’re writing rising action for an action-oriented novel, you might not have appreciated yesterday’s Writing Challenge. All that lovey-dovey, touchy-feely stuff is for romance novels and chick-lit, you say.

Not for you. Your work isn't boring like that.

If that’s the way you see it, I do understand. Seriously. And, lucky you, you don’t have to do anything that post told you to do. It was, after all, only a Writing Challenge, not a Writing Rule.

Besides, even if it was a Writing Rule, you’re your own person. You, not Innovative Editing, are the author of your story. So you can pick and choose accordingly, as well you should.

Just make sure that what you pick and choose doesn’t bore your readers into putting your novel down – and leaving you there. Because too much non-lovey-dovey, anti-touchy-feely stuff can get pretty boring too.

Have you ever heard of Burn Notice? It’s an “old” show from a few years back that ran seven seasons. So it was pretty popular.

Burn Notice was about a U.S. spy who gets dumped from his job without warning or explanation. Unsatisfied with that decision, he sets out to figure out exactly how he can get back in.

With that summary established, I’m sure you won’t be surprised that IMDB classifies it under the action, crime, drama, mystery and thriller categories. Or that, accordingly, it featured plenty of things that go boom in the night.

But it wasn’t all Molotov cocktails and knife play. Those kinds of intense scenes didn’t even make up half the show. Or a third of it. Maybe a fifth?

That’s because the people behind it – and every other successful writer out there – already understood the cautionary details below.

Too many actions scenes together turn into a snoozefest.

Too much of a good thing, including action scenes, can turn into a not-so-good thing. You might think you’ll excite everyone with nonstop drama: fist-a-cuffs or swordplay or running from danger or whatever on every other page.

In actuality, however, that’s a good way to disinterest your readers. Variety is the spice of storytelling, so write some slower scenes into the rising action segments. That way, when something importantly dramatic does happen, it will stand out the way it deserves to.

Seriously, writers… Ignore this one at your own peril.

Let’s expound on that Writing Rule for a moment with an analogy about ice cream.

What’s your favorite flavor? Mint chocolate chip? Rocky road? Cookies and cream?

Whatever it is, imagine eating it for a whole week straight. Nothing but that favorite ice cream of yours. Think it would still be your flavor of choice for a while after that?

Probably not, since even an obsession turns into mediocrity if indulged in too often.

Now think about being on a diet where you’re expressly forbidden from having that sweet, smooth, flavor-filled goodness for two months straight. No Turkey Hill Double Dunker or Green’s Vanilla Brownie Blast or Haagen Daz’s Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream.

For two. Solid. Months.

Don’t you think it would weigh heavy on your mind (though not on your stomach) for weeks on end?

That, my friends, is called anticipation. And it’s very important to include no matter whether your novel is leading up to a sweet, sensuous smooch or an escape from a POW concentration camp.

Remember to flirt with the intense stuff. Tease it. Leave some mystery to keep readers wanting more.

That way, when the rising action is good and written… They’ll be perfectly primed to experience the very emotions you want them to during the climax.


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