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The Stage Direction Checklist

Here’s a great post from K.M. Allan about “stage direction” . This is something I personally struggle with in my own drafts so these tips are concise and helpful!

K.M. Allan

We all have a writing habit that no matter how much we grow as a writer, sticks with us.

For many writers (myself included), stage directing is one of those habits, and it takes the form of describing every physical move a character makes, beyond what’s necessary.

Because this habit happens naturally, it’s usually hard to break and hard to spot. That is where this checklist comes in. It will help you flag the words that indicate stage directing so you can weed it out.

The Stage Direction Checklist

The Rules:

Look at each instance and see if you can eliminate, rewrite or swap the word out for an action beat.

Keep in mind that not every instance has to be deleted/changed. Use your judgment.

  • Entered
  • Exited
  • Glance/Glancing/Glanced
  • Grab/Grabbing/Grabbed
  • Lifted
  • Look/Looked/Looking
  • Pull/Pulling/Pulled
  • Pushing/Push/Pushed
  • Reach/Reaching/Reached
  • Tipped
  • Turn/Turning/Turned
  • Walking/Walk/Walked

If you’re seeing these words in your sentences, chances are…

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