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I am trying to create a description/story about what someone will do, for example a description of a man baking a cake, because I need to create descriptions of actions as part of my work. I know that an action has three parts, transformation, circumstance of transformation and means, but I'm unsure what these elements actually mean themselves or how to use them.

I want to be able to describe actions performed by something or someone, just like a story would be told, but I don't know how.

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    If you're talking about "user stories" or any other kind of technical writing like user manuals, etc., they follow slightly different rules of writing and you will get different answers. Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 21:11
  • Is this homework?
    – levininja
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 3:06

1 Answer 1

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Forget the formality; that is a generalization of all action that can happen.

"He broke three eggs into a large bowl."

That is an action. The transformation is from eggs in their shell to just the eggs without their shell. The means is implied; it was his hands; we all know how to break eggs into a bowl. The circumstances are also implied (other than the bowl we specified); our natural expectation is that this is in a kitchen, preparing some sort of food.

"With a whisk, he beat the eggs until they were a uniform light yellow liquid."

More simply, just write the action somebody is taking with enough supporting detail for a typical reader to form a mental picture of it: What, Where, and How. Sometimes, Why. (In some writing, we want the Why to be a mystery for a later surprise reveal; so we describe a character doing mysterious tasks that in the end all culminate in a surprise "Why" was she doing those things. But we do get the Why eventually.)

Sometimes, for very common actions, some of these are implied and can be omitted.

"He texted Lindsey."

We are all familiar with how we text somebody (with a phone) and what that means, in the context of a scene, the Where and How and Why can all be implied. Just the What will suffice.

In your writing, just be sure these elements are clear to the reader. In the case of Why, at least eventually clear to the reader.

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  • Thank you, this helps! But what is the difference between the circumstances and the means?
    – r0k1m
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 11:08
  • @RichardBamford I'm not sure. I would say the circumstances is the "situation", perhaps what prompts action, perhaps the environment. The means is any tools you use to accomplish the action. A knife, a whisk, a mixer, an oven.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 14:31
  • @RichardBamford The means is any tools you use to accomplish the action. A knife, a whisk, a mixer, an oven. More examples: Perhaps a fist or kick. Again, the means may be implied: She baked the cake for one hour (an oven is implied). She knocked him out with a blow to the temple (her fist is implied). She kicked him in the wrist and his knife went flying (her foot is implied).
    – Amadeus
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 15:17
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    @Jedediah Fair enough, I changed it from "called" to "texted".
    – Amadeus
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 17:49
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    @Amadeus Given the user's profile and confusion over how to write a story, I think the OP may need to write "user stories" which are not exactly stories in the traditional literary sense. Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 21:10

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