Enter Late, Leave Early: Nine Pro Editing Tips for Creating Action Packed Scenes

Writing Tips

The last few manuscripts I’ve critiqued have all been fun, interesting reads. Each one holds promise and I’d bet money that every single one will find an audience. Each author created relatable characters, used great visual detail, and included some clever plot twists. So what was missing? Action. You need lots of forward movement in stories for kids.

Here are nine simple ways to keep your story moving.

Enter late and leave early.

Unless something really exciting happens along the way, your reader doesn’t need to know how your character got somewhere. Show us what happened when he got there. In other words, start in the middle of the party. Similarly…

Leave out the planning stages.

I can’t count how many times I’ve written a scene where a character gets over the top excited about an idea, then plans it step by step, usually with lots of enthusiasm! And exclamation marks! Just as often, I’ve ditched those pages. Readers want to see a character in action, not how your character makes plans.

Don’t let your characters sit around talking.

Yes, you probably write great dialogue. And dialogue reveals character. But it’s a book–your characters need to do stuff to keep your readers engaged.

Take bold actions.

Many of your readers are hanging out at home wishing something big would happen to them. Give them an adventure! Most kids will never get stuck out in the wilderness, or win a singing contest or save a drowning friend but they can experience these things vicariously through your story. Think big!

Think scene.

Picture each part of your book like it’s a scene from a movie. Can you see it? Is it active?

Get your character out of her head.

I like knowing what a character is thinking, but only up to a certain point. Unless a character is really funny, or provocative, or you can write her with incredible voice, I’d rather see her in action.

Use verbs, verbs and more verbs.

Verbs are the heart and soul of writing. If you’re verbing, you’re characters are moving.

Stay in the moment.

Go easy on the flashbacks. If you can sit on your main character’s shoulder in every scene, and he’s in the present, chances are your book is moving forward.

Connect scenes using ‘but’ and ‘so.’  

Create a scene, and end it with a ‘but…’ so that your character has an obstacle to overcome. In the next scene start with a ‘so…” to show how the character jumped that hurdle.



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