I just got back from another vacation at the sea, enjoying the sun and surf. As always, great fun to hang with that beach crowd, though, by the end, I was more than ready to leave behind all the “dude”-ing that seems so prevalent on our western coast.
When I spend time watching the waves, I feel a bit sad for people who have never seen or experienced the sea in all its natural glory. Whether that’s enjoying the rush of a curling rip on a longboard or the soporific lap of a gentle tide in a rowboat, it’s one of life’s great adventures, to be in the sea. It makes one feel small yet in touch with the world as a whole. It’s primal, and soothing, and frightening, all in the same moment. It also makes one appreciate the responsibility championed by Aquaman and the Submariner a bit more.
Stepping into rolling surf takes strength, courage, determination. As strong a swimmer as you may think you are, you can easily get wiped out…or, at least, shoved back to shore by an even stronger wave. But I do it, because the sense of joy and freedom to be in those swells is too well-loved for me to consider staying on the beach all my life.
The same can be said for writing, I suppose. It’s easy to stay in the shallows, where we’re safe. It’s fun, too, just wading around, getting our feet wet, without any hint of danger. The sand stays under our toes; it’s just a hop to dry land. It’s calm, cool, refreshing. But, there’s no rush, no excitement. There’s no sense of triumph to be had simply dunking our toes. Anybody can do that.
So, we stride deeper, against the current. We move our arms and legs to stay above the water line. We swim. We dive. We ride. Not for ever. Maybe not even for very long. But we push ourselves, because adventure calls among those tall, crashing tidal breaks.
What’s adventure without action, though?
I’ve spent most of my writing life working in drama, where tension comes from feeling and emotion, not action. It’s a good place for me to be, I think, and I enjoy it. But, every once and again, I feel the urge to step out a bit further, past my safe boundaries.
On the plane flying out to the coast, I wrote about 3000 words of a throwaway story. Just me typing away to impulse, really. But, I wrote a little action scene. Now, I’m not strong with action: too much description, not enough tension. “Confusing,” readers have told me. And, “Boring.” Yikes. That wasn’t something I liked hearing. But, I’m actually rather pleased with this one. It’s short, which I think is good. About one action for every one or two seconds or so, too. And, it’s got a bit or resonance for the characters, which I always like.
I’d like to try my hand at more action, if the story warrants it. I think that’s important, too: action for action’s sake – just as drama for its own sake – does no favors to a story. Letting a story’s voice tell me what it needs and wants is a part of storytelling I need to remember. But, for now, I’ll enjoy these little action scenes.
I’m working through my backlog of blog updates this week. So, I’m asking for your patience a tad longer. It was a bit too wonderful to step away from the Internet for several days!
What’s your favorite sort of scene? Drama? Humor? Romance? Action? Have I forgotten some? What do you do to push yourself out past your regular boundaries?