Narrative Basics Lesson 2: Action

Describing action

Putting it all together

Let’s try and tackle a snippet that combines some of the tools we’ve practiced in this lesson.

In this snippet, a girl talks about being so upset about having to move cities that she writes a letter to her dad.

Mom made it seem like this move was no big deal because we’d be back when her new job contract expired. But two years might as well be forever. Two years meant all of middle school. And I couldn’t even imagine what two years away from Dad would feel like. It was a very big deal. So for the next hour I wrote and cut and pasted a final plea to Mom. I glued the last letter onto a page just as the doorbell rang to signal that my time was up.

The First Rule of PunkCelia C PérezSource
Let's break this down
Sequencing the physical action
Is this action summarised or detailed?

Here are some examples that follow the same structure.

(And again, there's a lot of overlap between physical, social and internal actions. For instance, worrying about someone is internal, but also in some ways social.)

Alexei had invited Mikhail into the coffee shop because he wanted the guy to be safe from the cold, but he didn’t expect him to make himself at home. Now Alexei was going to have to figure out a way to get rid of him. Sure he felt guilty, but he also worried about his customers. Mikhail would scare them off. So he started packing cakes and coffee into a takeaway box, and made a lot of noise so that Mikhail had to look over at him as he did so.

Henry avoided his neighbours because they hated the way he took care—or didn’t take care—of his apartment. It meant he had to sneak in and out at strange times, and use the fire stairs to get out. Sometimes he was lonely and frustrated that he didn’t fit in better. It was starting to get to him. So every morning he started turning on his vacuum cleaner and leaving it near the door, thinking it would give his neighbours the impression he was cleaning.

On the next page we're going to write a checkpoint piece using this snippet, so make sure you understand how the different combinations of action and meaning are being used, and get ready to write a big piece of your own!

Let's go!

Like what you see?