Swain Again-MRUs

Pen, Ink, and Crimes

During Mary Buckham’s recent online Pacing class, she suggested we improve our scene pacing by following a model found in Chapter 4 of  Dwight V. Swain’s book, Techniques of the Selling Writer. That model involves breaking scenes into goal/conflict/disaster, followed by the point-of-view (POV) character’s reaction/dilemma/decision in reaction to the disaster. This model resonated with me.

So recently, when I was considering how to sharpen my paragraphs, I pulled out my trusty copy of Swain’s book and reread Chapter 3, “Plain Facts About Feelings.” In it, Swain suggests that the key to writing better paragraphs is to break moment-by-moment action into motivation/reaction units (MRUs).

I’m sure many of you have mastered writing MRUs, but today I thought I’d review Swain’s advice for those of you who, like me, still sometimes struggle.

According to Swain, the first step is to understand that, like scenes, MRUs must be written from the…

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