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A Page-Turning Plot = A Character-In-Action (Secrets Of Narrative Drive), by Sarah Mussi

Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi - cover image

A plot driven by a character-in-action is the most compelling kind of story and the one that will most effectively create narrative drive. So I’m going to list a few things to consider around this point.

I’m suggesting that a page-turning plot = a character-in-action

If character is conveyed by the decisions a person makes under pressure or when faced with situations that force that person to the extreme, then pressure on someone can be said to be motivation

This leads me to :

Secrets of Narrative Drive

Secret Number 9

drum roll…  tada!

Dramatic action is equal to decision 

This means that character is shown through the decisions someone makes. Decisions in a novel can be:

  • internal (resolutions), or
  • external (actions).

External decisions are made by the character. They are proactive. They do not happen to the character, with the character’s actions treated as a function of things happening to them. The character’s decisions become the reader’s means of working out the character’s motivations. In other words:

  • The goal of the character is shown in actions.
  • Motivation is what makes the story dramatic.
  • Obstacles are what creates conflict.
  • A character-in-action with obstacles shows external or dramatic motivation.
  • Why a character seeks out conflict shows internal motivation through goal orientation.
  • This adds up to ‘something meaningful is going to happen’.

So how you can use this secret?

  • Make sure your protagonist makes decisions that result in action.
  • Make sure each decision to act takes your protagonist further toward their goal.



Sarah Mussi’s author website:

Sarah Mussi’s bio page


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The Door of No ReturnThe Last of the Warrior KingsAngel Dust     Boys without NamesThe HuntingVibes

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