I took some time last night and in the wee hours of this morning to think about action stories and how I want to approach this second block of the Creativity Workshop. Part of me wasn’t sure that I’d still be around by this point, and while my energy levels aren’t high, I am feeling incredibly driven to pursue this block right now, and hopefully that will stick around for the next few weeks.
So, without further ado…
What makes up an action story?
On doing some research these things appear to be important: danger, movement, fighting, chases, clear differences between the good guys and the bad guys. Other things that aren’t so cool for me are characters that aren’t very deep, and storylines that aren’t that deep either. So there are certainly aspects that appeal, and some that don’t. I don’t believe that all action subscribes to these things, but it seems to be the general consensus.
What aspects of this do I want to explore?
I think for me, the most important things are high stakes and intensity of emotion. I want to write action where the characters are focused on getting through a situation because of their needs and wants, rather than because they are the good guys/bad guys, and have been told they should be doing things one way or another. It doesn’t necessarily have to be life and death situations, but where the outcome is going to have a major impact on the characters involved, and the personal cost is very high.
Initially I was going to go with an idea I had for a serial back when Tama was suggesting I give one a go, but on analysis it doesn’t excite me a whole lot right now. It would be action, but the stakes wouldn’t be high enough for me, and the emotion not deep enough.
Something that HAS been interesting me lately is the world in which there are zombie babies. There is a heap I could draw from there, and I am going to tie these stories together by that location. I need to develop some characters though, and some stories. I have an idea for one which I can use for my first, and hopefully the others will develop as the week progresses.
These might not be ‘action’ in a classic sense, but they are what I consider action – there will be danger, tension and suspense as my characters fight for the things that are most important to them.
After reading Merrilee’s post on integral setting this morning I feel even more excited. The setting is definitely going to play a major role in this set of stories – there is no way that they could exist outside of this setting, and it will certainly dictate the behaviour and actions of many of the characters.
One of my bad habits as a writer is to start a story too early. I have written thousands of words and scrapped them because they weren’t necessary to the story. Part of the reason this happens is because I think there is vital information in those words – and often there is – but none that couldn’t be slipped into the story at a later point. For this block I want to make sure I start writing when the action happens, and write only so far as I need to conclude the story in a satisfying manner. No excess.
I’ve never written stories based on a setting before. I mean, all my stories have a setting, but typically I have a character or a story idea first, and then build the setting up around that. In this case, I have a setting, no characters set in stone, and one story idea. That’s going to be interesting…
Anyway, I also managed to finish writing the last story from block four this morning. I’ve been awake all night for no apparent reason and made the decision to quit resting and get up and do some work – thankfully, Lauren has stayed sleeping for a change and it was actually a success! It seems to me that this last story could actually be the beginning of the novel, and I’ve had some new things crop up in the story which suggest to me that something a little more sinister and unpleasant is going on than I initially suspected. It will be very cool to explore that when I get the chance.
Well, I know I’m looking forward to this second block, I hope the other participants are too!