Scrivener’s Forge 6 – Character and Action

Once again I would like to thank Neil MacDonald for hosting this writing exercise. Please follow CLICK HERE link for all the details. I find his exercises that focus on a specific aspect in writing extremely challenging and hence rewarding.

Here is a recap of the exercise, so that you can judge whether I met the challenge –

Character is action

Characters act. The ways they act, and hence the stories they create, depend on their natures. In this month’s exercise, we’ll explore using action to reveal that nature.


Create a character in your mind. Visualise her or him. Learn what their goals, mannerisms and peculiarities are.  Then write a short scene that shows us who your character is, entirely through their actions. Show us who your character is – do not tell us. Do not use any describing words (adjectives or adverbs). Make your verbs count – if a character walks, we don’t learn much about them, but if they stride we see their confidence and purpose, whereas if they slouch or creep we see their discomfort.

Now here is my scene –

Eager to see their oldest daughter Diane and Fred, her husband, Dottie strode the confines of the tiny cottage, running fingers over polished surfaces, unnecessarily smoothing wrinkle free surfaces. At 1:30 Bob, pushed to the brink of annoyance, suggested they make the trip to the marina early. Bob looking relaxed, tanned, and happy drove the boat slowly knowing that anytime spent waiting at the marina would push his rattled wife to the breaking point.  Dottie, nervously smoothed her rumbled shirt, while her hand continuously strayed to her hair searching for any disorder that needed attention. Feeling like a street urchin, she cursed the fact that she had not changed out of her faded shorts and battered sneakers. Her attempt to plastered a smile on her face to hide her concern failed miserably. She questioned whether the weekend with the two self-described Yuppies from New York would be a disaster. She silently prayed they would be charmed by the log cabin and the little island that featured no electricity and no indoor plumbing.

 At 2:20 while Bob calmly strolled the docks, window shopping boats they would never be able to afford, Dottie marched the shoreline increasing her tempo with each pass. By 2:30 she was bouncing between cursing the lack of phone at the cottage, surely responsible Diane would have called to alert them of their tardiness, and the sinking feeling something was wrong, terribly wrong. Bob’s causal manner was exasperating to Dottie who had worked herself into a frenzy convinced her oldest child had been in a horrific car wreck. As she stomped towards the payphone at the marina, her mind swirling with the unanswered question of who she would call, a sleek silver sedan edged down the roadway and crept to a stop at the dock furthest from her. Dottie’s heart pounded as she stood rooted, hopeful the car was the answer to her prayers. She held her breath as an attractive couple, looking like models from an outdoors photo shoot, stepped out of the car. Both were decked out in pressed khaki’s, polo shirts and Sperry Top-Siders. Light bounced off their sunglasses as they scanned their unfamiliar surroundings.  Dottie yelped in relief when she recognized her daughter and son-in-law. She ran towards them waving her arms frantically. When their eyes pivoted towards charging figure, Diane slowly raised her hand in a timid greeting.

Thanks for reading. Please click HERE to read other scenes.

So what do you think? Did I meet the challenge? Did this story engage you and make you feel for the characters? Any comments are appreciated.




4 thoughts on “Scrivener’s Forge 6 – Character and Action

  1. Cindy, you’ve really made the verbs work for you here – strode, strolled, marched, bouncing, stomped, edged crept. There are also descriptive actions- hair smoothing, shirt smoothing, arm waving. I saw her anxiety in her actions. But it is hard, isn’t it, eliminating the describing words? I did count 29 adjectives and adverbs.


    1. You are so right. I wasn’t able to remove them all. I think I was too focused on the verbs. One day I will do the exercise totally and not get distracted. 😦


  2. I thought you had all the parts working to satisfy the exercise, but couldn’t quite part ways with the adverbs, either from habit or fear that the reader wouldn’t be convinced by the excellent action you provided.

    Here’s the clearest example of what I mean. You wrote, “Dottie, nervously smoothed her rumbled shirt, while her hand continuously strayed to her hair searching for any disorder that needed attention.” If you delete the adverbs “nervously” and “continuously,” the image remains in all its clarity.

    Throughout, I had a great picture of worry and nervousness. For me, this was a great response to the exercise that would benefit with a little extra push. Really well done!

    Now, I need to try this. I’ve intended to jump in for some time, but they’re hard!


    1. Thank you so much for the compliments. Your example was strong and so very right, removing the words didn’t change the impact. Hope you jump in and join us. The exercises are hard but worth the effort.

      Liked by 1 person

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