Camera, Lights… Action?


If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage. — Cynthia Ozick

There are innumerable books, blogs and articles in existence giving advice to would-be authors. A lot of them give the same advice, dressed up in different words. One word of wisdom, oft repeated, is that you should start as close to the action as possible. Slow build-ups are bad, m’kay? You need to grab your audience from the get-go, otherwise they’ll get bored and wander off.

This has been worrying me for some time. Yes, my story has plenty of action in it, but it only makes sense in the context of the relationships and social structures that it happens within. And the focus is not supposed to be the action – it’s supposed to be those relationships. As a result, I have quite a slow lead-in during which the central characters develop and build the ties that will become all-important when the shit hits the fan. In my head it is a crucial arc, but it’s going against all the advice.

The raptor once again shored up the sandbags of my sanity, by pointing out that I am not alone. Robin Hobb, Lois McMaster Bujold, Mary Stewart, Mary Renault, and a whole heap of my favourite authors do the same. Writing is an act of courage and a crucial part of that is having faith in your instincts. Whether my instincts are on the money in this instance remains to be seen, but I’ll follow them for now.


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