Narrative Basics Lesson 2: Action

Describing action

Internal action

We've talked about physical actions, which include a lot of things that happen in the world: people walk, drive, sing, eat, or sleep, leaves fall, bananas go rotten, time passes.

But what about what we do in our hearts and minds? We think, feel, decide, reflect, imagine, wonder, regretthese are all internal actions which are just as important as physical actions.

Here is a snippet that is fill of internal actions: missing, wanting, feeling, thinking, smelling.

Now I was in a boat in the middle of the open bay, the green-gray of the sea in chaos around us. I’d missed it so much. I wanted to reach for the water, feel its coldness stun my fingertips and its seaweed twist about my wrist. The salt thick in the air made me think of my aunt’s hair, full and flowing and smelling of the sea.

SanctuaryJennifer McKissackSource

The narrator is physically sitting in a boat touching the water.

But internally she is missing, wanting, feeling, thinking, smelling, and so on.

Here are some examples that use similar ideas.

As she stepped into the store, Sasha hoped that no-one would notice the state of her boots. The man behind the counter smiled. She realised it was the same man that lived in the apartment above hers. Feeling sheepish, she racked her brain for something to say.

Now Henry was in a tiny kitchen behind a grotty cafe, surrounded by feral cats. He wished he’d applied for the other job. He could see himself sitting at a nice clean desk, thinking about important emails. A yowling cat brought his attention back to the here and now, and Henry realised that he’d been letting the omelette burn.

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