A while back, I had the pleasure of editing a book that briefly discussed the interaction between the macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates). The thing that really stuck with me about this interaction is that the body digests best when it is not digesting only one of these at a time. You don’t want to just eat (for example) protein—you want to pair it with fats or carbohydrates.
I like cooking. I make most of my food from scratch, and nowadays while I’m cooking, I occasionally think about how and if I’m including more than one type of macronutrient. And because this is a blog about things related to writing . . .
The macronutrients of a good book are: dialogue, description, and action. To be good for the digestion, scenes should include at least two out of the three, and they should feed off each other; and to have a well-balanced book, you need all three. (Note here that dialogue can be internal and action doesn’t have to involve running and explosions.)
Are your characters nothing but talking heads, exchanging dialogue while sitting still and doing nothing?
Is your action scene a lot of doing without any personality—or without any feeling of setting?
Have you just spent an entire chapter describing the sewers of Paris, instead of sprinkling in those descriptions in between fragments of action and dialogue?
Next time you’ve written a scene that you know is dull and you aren’t sure why—consider making sure you have at least two macronutrients.
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