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Character actions in stories | Reading

Character actions drive stories forward and reveal their personalities. By observing how characters react to situations, we learn about their motives, values, and goals. Actions can also show how characters change throughout a story. To understand characters better, look for evidence in the text and consider their thoughts and feelings.

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  • primosaur seed style avatar for user ak201940
    So, say a girl tries to break a vase. If she tried, would that express the emotion of anger? Or, would you not be able to tell her emotions from that action? The only thing I can think of, is that she would be angry, or sad.
    Example: Marsha STOMPS ( action ) to her bedroom, and SLAMS ( action ) the door.
    What could her emotion be? She seems angry.

    Is this a correct?
    (55 votes)
    • leaf red style avatar for user Cavan P
      I think that saying she's angry would be a logical guess as to what she is feeling, yes.

      Knowing that someone simply tried to break a vase, however, I don't believe we can make a guess as to what they might be feeling, as it could be any number of emotions. Angry might be an emotion, but what if she's jealous of something? Maybe, someone she knows got a new vase that she wanted, and out of jealousy, she broke it just so this person couldn't have it? There are a lot of things we could read into here, and without context, it would be difficult to tell.

      Specifics aside, yes, I think anger would be a fairly accurate guess as to what she's feeling.
      (44 votes)
  • blobby blue style avatar for user Desert Eagle
    In the very first kingdom, Kim says they don't even nap or eat anything or drink anything.
    => Will they die if they only sit still? Anyone answer me please?
    (38 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user gbasurto0003
    What happens when there are very few actions in a story?
    (9 votes)
    • aqualine seedling style avatar for user M&M
      It would probably not be very good story, in that case. The story would be flat and not very interesting. There's a possibility that the story has more "thoughts" and "thinking" where the brain is doing the action, but I don't believe that there are tons of books like that. Who knows, I could be wrong!
      (7 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user Veronica Ulrich
    I think that knowing the rules of writing is good, but breaking the rules is even better! I want to tell a new story about how the big bad wolf wanted to be nice to the three pigs. I don't think about the cause and effect of things. I just write what I want.. and I consider it creative.. or am I very wrong in that? give me your opinion!
    (5 votes)
    • hopper cool style avatar for user Constant Blais
      It’s great that you want to write a new story! Writing is a creative process and there are no hard and fast rules. However, it’s important to keep in mind that stories should have a structure and follow some basic principles of storytelling. While breaking the rules can be a good thing, it’s also important to understand why the rules exist in the first place.

      In your story about the big bad wolf wanting to be nice to the three pigs, you can definitely take some creative liberties with the plot. However, it’s still important to think about how the characters’ actions will affect the story and how they will interact with each other. Cause and effect is an important part of storytelling and can help make your story more engaging for readers.

      Overall, I think it’s great that you’re exploring your creativity and trying new things with your writing. Just remember that while breaking the rules can be good, it’s also important to understand why they exist in the first place. Good luck with your writing! 😊
      (6 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user kcuddiie
    Do all characters or stories have to have action?
    (4 votes)
    • duskpin sapling style avatar for user frostyblueberry
      Hey kcuddiie! Is most cases, stories will have action. Without action and suspense, what will make the story interesting? In stories there is mostly always an antagonist. An antagonist could be a person or a problem that creates a problem in the story that the character has to face. And when there is an antagonist, there is action. So in most cases, yes, stories will have action.

      Hope this helps! : )
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user ziaur rahman khan
    Is the person who visited the first kingdom and explained about the area not a character?
    (4 votes)
  • aqualine sapling style avatar for user ZailaT
    Are emotions an action too?
    (1 vote)
  • blobby green style avatar for user leilafahmy
    anyways maybe nobody did nothing in the castle but then a grizzly came and told the prince, act quickly and I will not eat you, or make me some stake and will never come to you again. Then the prince would say, ok. I will make you some stake. So the prince and the cooker made some stake and mashed potato and gave it to the bear. One year later this kingdom becomes cooking kingdom and many people go to it, even the grizzly bear! And he gives them a gift and they give him stake and they live happlily ever after. I LOVE WRITING
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user leilafahmy
    I only watched a bit of moana so you did kind of spoil the movie but thats ok
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Chris  Chicoye
    What do characters do when their friends need help?
    (0 votes)

Video transcript

- [David] Hello, readers. Today it is a time for action. (horn blares) Yes, sound the horn of action, because today we're going to be talking about character actions in stories. Understanding what characters do is key to your success as a reader. The way characters behave towards themselves, towards others, towards objects, can tell us a lot about them and can give us clues to the larger messages in a story. Character actions are what drive a story forward. Let my co-worker Kim read you a story in which nobody takes any actions. - [Kim] Once upon a time, there was a magical kingdom in which nobody ever did anything. Nobody baked bread or called their friends on the phone or played video games or soccer or basketball or wrote books or ate yogurt. They didn't even nap. They just sat there. (Kim yawns) It was a very boring kingdom. - [David] Why, thank you, Kim. Without character action, there is no story. Let's try that again. I'll blow the horn of action and Kim you do that again, but this time let's throw in some character decisions. All right, lights, camera, horn of action. (horn blares) - [Kim] The magical kingdom of Belchantry was abuzz with activity. Bakers baked, ballers shot hoops, yogurt smiths made yogurt. The young princess Lulabell practiced her swordplay. And on a great tower on the outskirts of town an evil wizard put the finishing touches on a spell that would bring terrible darkness to the land. - [David] See, now that's a story I wanna hear. Character actions and decisions have to drive the story. It's about what characters choose to do, not just about the world around them. There could be a big, scary storm, but that's not character action. It's about how the characters react to the storm that matters, that shapes the story. What do characters do in times of trouble or when their friends need help? That's when you can learn the most about them. Actions speak louder than words, after all. What motivates these characters? Why do they act the way they act? What are the values or beliefs that drive them? What are their goals? And what does that tell us about the message of the story? Sometimes characters don't behave in the way that we expect, like villainous characters may seem nice in order to do evil things. If we think about "The Three Little Pigs." If the Big Bad Wolf is going door to door and saying, "Hello, little pig. "It's me, your new neighbor, the Small Nice Wolf. "And I brought you some cookies." If you're the pig looking out the window, you should open the door, right? Heek no! The wolf is trying to trick you, lock the door. What's interesting about looking at character actions is they can help us see how characters change throughout a story. In the film "Moana," the demi-god character Maui begins as a selfish tricky character, but by the end of the movie he's changed and he cares about Moana and helps her. We can see that because of his actions. He begins by stealing Moana's boat and stranding her on an island, and he ends by sacrificing his magic fish hook to help her. Sorry for "Moana" spoilers. Characters in stories can be complex, just like real people. The way they behave might surprise you. And if it does, ask yourself, why is this a surprise? Why is this character behaving in this way? Look for evidence throughout a text to help you understand the way characters act. If you've insight into their thoughts or feelings, that can be a great place to start. But, for now, I'm going to take action by ending this video. You can learn anything, David out.