4 Reasons To Use Action Beats When Writing

Adding Action Beats to Your Fiction, by K.M. Allan

K.M. Allan

If you’re wondering what an action beat is, you’re not alone. Not too long ago, I didn’t know what it was either.

I’ve since learned it’s an action your character is doing while they’re talking.

Yeah, it’s not exactly an earth-shattering revelation and is something you’ve probably been writing naturally anyway, it’s just now you know there’s an actual name for it.

Not only does this writing trick have a name, it also has four good reasons why you should be working actions beats into your dialogue.

4 Reasons To Use Action Beats When Writing

1. Action Beats Break Up The Boring

When an action beat pairs with your dialogue, it breaks up the usual he said/she said monotony of dialogue tags.

Dialogue tag:
“Hi,” Jenny said.

Action beat:
“Hi.” Jenny lifted her hand, waving her fingers in Carla’s face.

Action beats will also break up long passages of dialogue, puts…

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5 thoughts on “4 Reasons To Use Action Beats When Writing

  1. K.M. Allan has some great tips here. Thanks for posting it Michael. The timing was great for me as I was just working on adding more action beats to my dialogue after Michael suggested it and I found it to be another way to add depth and it led me into further character development too. Yesterday’s writing opened another dimension into the conflict and anguish of my protagonist. (poor girl). Michael’s delicate comments are very much like a hammer and I am continually amazed at how effectively they slam me into deeper POV. Not that I’d ever let a Marine push me around. Whatever works to make the writing better – that’s my philosophy. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, and you are welcome to use the phrase since you inspired it and are SO good at it! So here is to another day dealing with the iron hand in the velvet glove. I would never have believed I was capable of writing like this. The velvet feels just great and the iron forms a structure that is durable and can be layered on. Strategy in all things. Maybe that’s your motto. Anyway it works. Thanks! (Ouch! or is it Yay!) both 🙂 (Don’t stop) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If a person WILL deal with Marines who are also writers they have to expect this sort of thing. All that small, perfect writing on the manuscript is quite nuclear. Laugh or cry, it works. Anyway that’s what I need and what I want. “Ode to masochism” LOL. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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