A Creative Way To Turn Mundanity Into Strong Fiction

All characters have to eat, and sleep, and dress themselves. Most characters end up traveling in the course of a story. I think many, if not all of us, have sat down and written something that was relatively dull, but seemed pertinent at the time. You know, like, “[Character] got dressed, and then sat down to eat.”

By providing context to how and why the character’s actions may link into a wider chain of meaning, you can turn mundane action into portentous plot point.

Mundane example:

Jane put on her yellow dress, and went into the kitchen. She poured herself a bowl of cereal, and began to eat.

Compelling example:

Jane’s fingers hesitated as she pulled up the zipper of her yellow dress. Her heart pounded, and her ribs contracted when the fabric tightened over her skin. He isn’t here anymore, she reminded herself, and she pushed her hair over her shoulders.

When she had gone into the cold kitchen, the cereal made a pop-popping noise against the heavy glass bowl. The sound of the cereal pattered against  Jane’s skin, like the feathery impact of many voices.

Any action can become compelling, intriguing, and plot-forwarding, if you provide sensory context for the character’s actions, and if you link the events to the wider meaning of the story.

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