Sunday, May 22, 2011

Show Don't Tell

We've all heard it. Show the reader what is happening don't tell them. I missed the class on this by Annette Lyon but I had a friend explain it to in such a way that I wanted to hit my head and say Duh! I asked him to read my first five chapters and tell me what I could do to fix them. Aside from all my passive verbs that I have a love for. He kept saying show me what's happening. Okay for most of you this is probably a no brainer, but for me I guess it took him telling me to get it. The conversation went something like this.
  My friend Gary. "Show me what is happening."
Me: "You mean describe everything that is going on the way I see it."
Gary: "Yes exactly."
Me: "Oh well that seems so simple."

I bet he wanted to head slap me too. Here I had been complicating everything because I thought I needed to have these flowery similies and amazing metaphors. And because of that I gave up and just told the reader what was happening.

Lucky for me, Gary, set me straight. So here is the challenge. Just write what you see.


Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I attended Annette's class and I know my writing is better for it. Here's to hoping it just gets better and better ;)

Brent Wescott said...

I like the "write what you see" advice. But I have to take care not to try to describe every movement and facial expression. I think of it like a movie or something and it ends up being tedious when I write it down.

And nobody ever said a metaphor had to be flowery, did they?

Gail said...

No I don't think anyone told me that. For some reason I got it stuck in my head.

Brenda Sills said...

Great reminder! There are so many things to remember about writing, it's easy to blank out some of them at any given moment. :) Thanks! And thanks for being a follower on my blog!

M. K. Yarbrough said...

A quick way to find the passive voice is to "control find" the word WAS, then replace the sentence with action. Ex: She WAS sick. Find 'was' then change to: Her body ached.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Gail, it's okay, all of us truly go through that. If we don't, it's because we were slapped around by someone who knew, too. And then, they were once like that, so on so on so on.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us! :)

Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

ali said...

Sometimes it's easier said than done, lol! I almost never get it right until I've revised a couple times, lol. :P

Hey, I gave you an award and tagged you on my blog! Come on over!