Five Great Quotations about Writing SF
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Avoid here-to-there action in storytelling

If your story People-2568530_1920 feels like it’s dragging, you may want to look at what “action” is provided to readers. You might be giving too many “here-to-there” steps.

Here-to-there actions occur when the writer over-describes interim steps between actions that really matter to the plot. For example, if the story’s hero jumps into his car to chase a criminal, the writer would tell readers that the character placed the key into the ignition.

There’s no need to do that, though. All the reader needs to know is that our hero got into the vehicle and sped off. Readers are savvy enough to infer that to speed off the hero placed a key into the ignition and turned it.

Describing the key turning typically wouldn’t advance the plot because it isn’t suspenseful. In addition, it probably isn’t relevant to the overall story because it doesn’t provide any context that would be useful to understanding the character, setting or theme.

The writer might make such here-to-there action suspenseful by making an obstacle for the character. In the above example, perhaps the hero has had trouble with his car’s starter, and it picks this inopportune time to not work for him. The writer also could use here-to-there action to provide context. For example, in a science fiction story, perhaps the hero doesn’t need a key but instead must tell the vehicle’s AI to start moving; this context helps establish the story’s setting.

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