3 Tips for Using Movement to Engage Readers

Depict a character moving from point A to point B, and your readers will want to know how your character made the journey, particularly if you create some obstacles along the way. Movement is one of the most compelling forces in writing. It holds your readers” attention because it arouses their natural curiosity. Where there is movement, there are questions: How are the two points connected? Why is this happening? How does the story end?

Here are three tips on how to use action and movement to engage readers:

  • Make your sentences tell stories.
    The intrigue of movement accounts for the appeal of narrative and plot. To make your sentences tell stories, make sure they contain characters and actions. You also can create movement by personifying an inanimate object.
  • Use verbs to animate your descriptions.
    One advantage of writing with action verbs is that they relieve you of an over reliance on adjectives and adverbs. Modifiers, such as incoherently and continuously, have their place, but they usually convey meaning with less emphasis and power than verbs.
  • Use semicolons and elliptical constructions to suggest movement.
    Humble and unpretentious, the semicolon announces its presence with simple dignity; its very abruptness gives pause and creates emphasis. A semicolon can provide just the right jumping distance. The same principle of using intentional gaps to create mental movement applies to elliptical constructions.

    Stephen Wilbers is a writing consultant, syndicated columnist and award-winning author. He teaches at the University of Minnesota and at Hamline University, where he won a 1995 Outstanding Faculty Award.

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