Writing isn’t just about action and dialogue and description. It’s not even just about all that and a few characters and a plot. Because what brings it to life—more than vivid descriptions, intricate world building, and scintillating dialogue, all put together—is having a world whose characters and other bits are reactive, responsive, and, most importantly, interactive. Having consequences for every choice, and equal and opposite reactions for every novelistic action.
Without repercussions, it feels a bit like throwing a rock into a pool—without it making a sound, a ripple, or a splash. Which is to say, it feels awesomely unsatisfying—and the opposite of immersive. It feels flat, and frustratingly unreal, no matter how gorgeous a picture of the pool and the rock description paints, and no matter how well-described the action of throwing the rock.
So, What Does It Mean?
Reactiveness and interactivity are the binding agents of your story. Without it, even if your dialogue, action, description, and plot are all beyond excellent, we’re going to be stuck in a serious state of wanting more. And by more, I mean that we’re want to know:
- What emotions people are displaying (or, for the point-of-view character, just plain having)?
- What thoughts people are broadcasting (or, what thoughts is the POV character is having)?
- How people are expressing themselves and communicating with one another nonverbally?