Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ask O: Reaction Before Action Part Two

Happy Wednesday my writing friends!

Today we continue our discussion about reaction before action or effect before cause. It can be tricky, so to sharpen our skills, I created a paragraph filled with the little devils. Can you find them?

Wow! Excitement rippled through me when my husband announced that he didn’t have to work.
“Really? Not Job One?”
He laughed and shook his head.
“Not Job Two?”“Nope!”
“Job Three?”
“Yay! Papa doesn’t have to work!” My littlest scampered into the bedroom and jumped on our bed where we were talking. The other kidlets joined us and we hugged and giggled about planning our family adventure for dad’s day off.

Think you found them all? Let’s see if we can clean this up.

Problem #1: Excitement rippled BEFORE my husband’s announcement--classic emotional response coming before action.

Better“Honey, sit down. You may not believe this. I don’t have to work today.”
Excitement rippled through me. Could it be true?

Problem #2: “He laughed and shook his head.” Perhaps a little more subtle, but you still must ask, why is he laughing? His chuckle comes because his answer to my question is no (which he shows by shaking his head.)

BetterHe shook his head then laughed.

Problem #3: “Yay! Papa doesn’t have to work!” Ugh! This kind irks me the most. The child talks before we know a child's in the room. Technically, this one exemplifies effect coming before cause. The effect is the child talking, the cause is the child.

BetterChristian bounded into the room with an impressive Army kick and roll.
My husband grinned at Christian, but spoke to me.“I’m telling you. I don’t have to work at all today, not at any of my jobs."
“Yay! Papa doesn’t’ have to work!”

Problem #4“…and jumped on the bed where we were talking.” We don't know where this scene takes place until the very last sentence. Thing is, if we don’t create a story world, readers will create their own. Then when we finally show them where we imagine the scene, we jolt readers out of the story and make them re-adjust. We don’t want them to work that hard.

BetterProvide a short beat of story world before the scene even begins: With a stretch and a yawn, I lug my tired self from bed. Before my eyes fully focus, my husband swaggers in, all smiles.

Problem #5“The other kidlets joined us, and we hugged and giggled about planning our family adventure for dad’s day off.”

Better: You tell me! Leave your answer in the comments with a corrected sentence and I’ll even put you in a drawing to win one of my books!

Happy writing and God bless!


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