Think of rising action as getting ready to leave for vacation. At first you may just start by thinking of where to go. Then maybe you set a date and buy your tickets. It starts becoming more real and you start looking forward to it.
As the day draws closer arrangements must be made.
What is your itinerary?
Where will you stay?
What sites do you want to see?
Finally, the day has arrived! Your bags are packed and you are ready to go.
Everyone has had a similar experience of looking forward to going somewhere. You know that sense of excitement that you feel with each passing day.
This is rising action.
Let’s Be Perfectly Clear
And just to make sure you understand what I’m talking about. You know that feeling when you come home from vacation?You’re happy and rested but ready to return.
You see the same things you saw on the way to your destination but now they are in reverse order. That’s falling action, just the opposite.
But, how do we create this feeling of rising action in the reader?
Start In Medias Res
Start it as they are getting ready to go on vacation not just thinking it would be nice to go somewhere someday.
Just like a vacation the reader needs to know there is a direction that novel is taking.
They may not know the destination for sure but they know there is a destination.
Should I Visit Paris Or Ohio This Year?
If you can’t decide on where to go for vacation your vacation will never happen.There can be no forward motion and no rising action.
This is just the same in a novel.
Captain Ahab isn’t thinking vaguely about killing Moby Dick someday if he happens to bump into him.
Frodo Baggins doesn’t return home to see if he’s left the oven on.
So How Do I Get There?
OK, you’ve decided to visit tropical Akron, Ohio. The next step is to make a map.
When you are writing a novel this is called a plot. What needs to happen for me to get from point A to point B?
The plot might have a thousand twists and turns but it is always heading in the same direction.
Speaking Of Twists And Turns
If you write a story about going to the grocery store and nothing happens to the character between now and then no one will read it.
But, if you write a story about going to the grocery store and the character is kidnapped by gangsters. But then he is rescued only to be kidnapped by rival gangsters who take him to the mob boss who asks…
“Can you pick up a gallon of milk at the store.”
… it becomes a bit more intriguing, doesn’t it?
Life Is Not Linear
Life is not linear and neither should your story be.
With each misstep and side track the reader gets more and more anxious and eager to get to the destination.
This is rising action.
This is the feeling you have when you set off for vacation and this is the feeling the reader will have as well.