So what exactly IS Dramatic Action?
The best definition I could find, and the one I use, comes from Martha Alderson.
Dramatic action is the outer journey the character takes that forces the character's inner transformation. Dramatic action provides the excitement on the page. The Dramatic Action gives the character something to be emotionally affected by and/or to emotionally affect.The Dramatic Action consists of A) goal B) obstacles to attaining goal and C) what's at stake.
I relate outer conflict and obstacles with Dramatic Action. Dramatic Action and Character Emotional Development are directly related. The struggles and encounters they meet while trying to attain their goal changes the character through the book.
That being said, it is important that we craft scenes and situations that show the character striving to meet their goal, the obstacles the character faces in that effort, and the stakes/consequences if they don't meet their goal.
Dramatic Action is what causes and interferes the journey. Dramatic Action is a question: Will she make it? And it's answered at the climax of the novel.
Connie Flynn has three very clear-cut worksheets that will help guide you:
Now...since novels and movies follow similar forms, writers often use screenwriting methods and tips to help plot their novel and the Dramatic Action. One of the best tools is called a Beat Sheet.
To see an actual Beat Sheet of a movie, visit Beat Sheet Central. There are hundreds of movies broken down for you to study.
Come back Tuesday for more on developing Thematic Significance.
Happy Writing!! XOXO
- Are You A Character-Driven Or Action-Driven Writer? by Martha Alderson
- The Hunger Games: A Lesson In Plot by Meghan Ward
- Blockbuster Plots by Threes by AbsoluteWrite
- Dramatic Action by Gordian Plot
- Plot Lines Test by Blockbuster Plots