Show vs. Tell #RRBC #RWISA

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything related to the craft of writing and this is a subject that we all can use a refresher on. So, if it’s redundant, I apologize. I still see this over and over again, especially with Indie writers. So, for what it’s worth, here we go.

Don't Tell me

If you wonder how can I show something, ask yourself; how do I notice she is quick, he is happy, it is big?

  • Don’t tell me the story…show me, using your words.
  • Place the reader INTO the story. This is especially important in first person POV—but also equally important in third.
  • Use the senses to bring the reader along for the ride. Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, Smell.
  • Be specific and creative.

For example…One might describe a love interest this way. This is Telling:

  • I watched Jack walk into the room. He was hot; maybe the best looking boy I’d ever seen.

Rewriting the scene by using specificity and the senses, here’s showing:

  • Jack didn’t walk into the cafeteria. He swaggered like the Mayor of Westfield High School, as he shook hands and slapped shoulders. If there had been a baby somewhere, he would have kissed it. Normally, that sort of attitude makes my stomach turn, but not today. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He even nodded at the lunch ladies. When he got to my table, our eyes met for the briefest of moments, and I felt like the only girl in the world.

You can add character detail, voice, and setting at the same time. This is showing.

  1. USE DETAILS (NO – It was a spooky house. YES – The house had dark windows, a doorway covered in cobwebs and an overgrown path leading up to it.)
  2. SIGNS YOU ARE TELLING – Adjectives – big, old, high  etc. and any form of the words “to be.” (She was happy. He was impatient. )
  3. USE NOUNS AND VERBS – Nouns and Verbs FORCE you to describe. (NO – He was a grumpy man. (Adjective) YES – He rarely talked and when he saw kids playing, he let out a grunt.)
  4. USE SENSES – (NO – It was a lush garden. YES – The garden bloomed with wild red and orange flowers that filled the air with a thick sweet fragrance.)
  5. DIALOGUE LINES ARE ALWAYS SHOWING – It’s the character talking, not the author.
  6. BE CAREFUL WITH DIALOGUE TAGS; THEY OFTEN TELL – It’s better to express the way the character is talking with body language. (NO – …she said jokingly. YES – …she laughed and slapped his arm.)

You don’t need to show absolutely everything, especially if it’s not important to move the plot forward. You risk the danger of being too lengthy or detailed. For example, NO three-page descriptions of the woods.

“Telling” is often used to move the action along quickly or relate necessary backstory.

However, you run the risk of “info dump” if you tell all the backstory this way.

When you “show,” you put the reader in the driver’s seat and let them “feel” the scene, emotion or action.

Use a combination of the two, to amp up your storytelling!

Tips

  1. Imagine a movie scene in your head. Write all the detail that you see. No “floating” heads of dialogue—be sure to describe where people are standing, what their hands are doing, noises in the room, where they are. Activate ALL the senses.
  2. Use Action Verbs to “show” what’s happening.
  3. Avoid using “was,” “is,” “are,” – All “To Be” words. This is Passive Voice.
  4. Consider investing in “The Emotion Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman, AND “Emotional Beats – How to Convert Your Writing into Palpable Feelings,” by Nicholas Rossis to get a sense of how physical movement conveys emotion.

You can write your first draft by telling if that’s what you need to do to get the story down, but ramp up all the feels in your story by showing through your subsequent drafts.

Happy Writing! Happy SHOWING!

show vs tell_Mark_Twain

 

#RRBC Meet Author Nicholas Rossis!

Here at the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB,  we like to celebrate our fellow authors with a Pay-It-Forward day. That simply means that we set aside all of our self-promotions for one day and support someone else.

I couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to a multi-talented, multi-award-winning. dream-protecting author, Nicholas Rossis!

Nicholas has written everything from children’s books to fantasy sci-fi, to speculative fiction, to a writer’s resource guide.

The book I want to focus on today is Emotional Beats – How to Convert your Writing into Palpable Feelings.

emotional-beats

I chose this book because it is such an incredibly valuable resource for me. It resides next to my computer and I often stop and refer to it when I’m trying to emphasize a particular scene or phrase.

In this book, Nicholas Rossis gives writers lots of options to choose from no matter the genre you write in. There is something for everyone.

For instance, are you writing a scene where a person is exhibiting fear and nervousness? On Pages 28-46, he gives examples such as physical symptoms, hair, face, eyes, etc.

Emotional Beats impressed me so much that I created a Writing Workshop around it. And, I added it to my TOP TEN book list from 2016.

For other titles by Nicholas Rossis visit his Author Central Page on Amazon or his WEBSITE.

He always has great information including marketing and writing tips on his Blog

AND, Nicholas Rossis is a super supportive member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB

Follow Nicholas on Twitter     Facebook     Pinterest     LinkedIn

rossis

 

JAN’s TOP TEN Best Books for 2016

top-10_2

Because I have read SO many fantastic books this year, I want to share with you the ones I enjoyed the most. Almost ALL of the amazing books on this list were written by Indie Authors!

#1     Pennies From Burger Heaven by Marcy McKay     Pennies-from-Burger-Heaven-3D-2-259x300

I had no trouble choosing the #1 book of the year for me. For months after I’d finished reading this one, it continued to haunt me. That, my friends, is the sign of a great story!

It is a gripping tale of an eleven-year-old homeless girl, Copper Penny who has lived on the streets with her mother for years. Their “home” is in the cemetery under an Angel statue. Copper awakes one morning to find her mother gone. She can’t find her anywhere and her search takes her into some scary, dangerous and gritty situations. You can read my full review here.

#2    To Love a Texas Ranger by Linda Broday                  texas-ranger-final

I didn’t choose this book to sit at #2 because Linda Broday is my sister. I chose it because it is such a HUGE story and the introduction to the Men of Legend Series. Stoker Legend has two sons (as far as he knows) and all he ever wanted was for them to help him run one of the largest ranches in Texas, The Lonestar Ranch. But, Sam Legend, has other desires and wants no roots. He is a hard-as-nails Texas Ranger but, a gang of outlaws hangs him and leaves him for dead. After a mysterious man saves his life, he is forced to return to the Lonestar to recuperate. What happens along the way will have you on the edge of your seat! You can read my full review here.

#3     Shadow of the Drill by Rhani D’Chae                          Shadow of the Drill

This is not a genre I normally read, but I was certainly glad I stepped out of my norm and picked up this book. The characters lingered with me long after I’d finished reading the last page. I couldn’t put it down as the story unfolded. Decker, The Drill, is hardened, tough and ruthless. He’s taken on the role of judge, juror and executioner and is on a mission to get revenge for an injustice that won’t stop haunting him. You can read my full review here.

#4      A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair                      AThousandYesteryears_hires

I love character driven stories and this book by Mae Clair fits that description. When Eve Parrish returns to Point Pleasant to settle her aunt’s estate, she is in for more than one surprise. The story is based around a tragic bridge collapse that had happened when Eve was just a child. Many lives were lost including her father’s and her best friend. To cope with the loss, Eve’s mother moved them away and this is the first time she’s returned since the tragedy. I will tell you that this book has everything – romance, strong characters, paranormal, murder and a mythical creature. You can read my full review here.

#5       Lodestone Book 1 (Witch Hunt) by Wendy Scott     Lodestone

I  love paranormal books and was drawn into this one from page one. I couldn’t stop until I reached the end, and even then, I wanted it to continue. I hope that Wendy Scott is writing a sequel to this book…I will be watching for it. Sabrina has been at the ‘Healing School’ since she was a very small child. She finds herself thrown into chaos at her graduation when she learns she is the direct descendant of Lauren, a woman who is considered evil. She is given a diary, written in Lauren’s own hand, along with a sliver of stone, and is told she must leave the school. Now it is up to Sabrina to unravel the mystery surrounding Lauren’s Order and end its reign of terror. You can read my full review here.

#6       Jazz Baby by Beem Weeks                                          A+ Jazz Baby 2 Front Cover

This is a coming-of-age story about Emily Ann “Baby” Teagarten, who can sing. She has one dream and that is to be on the big stage singing Jazz. When she loses both of her parents within a few short months, the man who takes her under his wing seems to be the answer to her dream. But, as we continue through the story, we see the selfish motives of everyone who claims to want to help her. This is another character-driven book and the tragedies that “Baby” had to endure were heart-wrenching to say the least. You can read my full review here.

#7    Daydream’s Daughter/Nighmare’s Friend by Nonnie Jules  daydreams-daughter-cover 

This is a story of unimaginable abuse which eventually leads to murder. My heart broke for this young girl who suffered so much. There seemed to be no escape for her even in adulthood. As the story unfolds, Nonnie takes us inside scenarios that are unfortunately, all too common and all too real in life. You can read my full review here

#8     His Revenge by John Howell                                            his-revenge-resized        

This is the second book in the John Cannon series and again, is not my normal genre to read. However, I loved this book. It is gripping, full of adventure, danger and a high stakes game that can bring this country to its knees. John Cannon, the main character, stumbles into this story simply by chance and where it takes him will keep you on the edge of your seat! You can read my full review here.   

#9     Jem by Michelle Abbott                                                 jem     

The scars of abuse run deep from childhood to adulthood and Jem carries those scars physically and mentally. All he’s known is hatred and pain except for one, his angel, whose kindness he could never forget. He’s tough and determined not to take any crap from anyone. When his “angel” shows up in the oceanside town where he lives, how can he let her know that he’s never forgotten? This is a gripping romance with plenty of hardcore action to keep you turning the pages. You can read my full review here

#10    Novy’s Son – The Selfish Genius by Karen Ingalls     NOVY'S SON     

I gave this story a five star review and believe that every young man, as they come of age, should be required to read it. Murray Clark, the selfish genius, is destined to be a victim his entire life because he never takes responsibility for his own actions. Karen Ingalls takes us through nine decades with Murray’s story and she does it in such a way that the reader never loses interest. She refers to the “Iron John” philosophy throughout the book which turns out to be a story written by Robert Ely as a sort of guide book on how to be a man. Novy’s Son is a MUST READ for all young men!  You can read my full review here.

I cannot end this list of amazing books without mentioning one more.

Emotional Beats: How to Easily Convert your Writing into Palpable Feelings (Author Tools Book 1) by Nicholas Rossis   

emotional-beats

This book is an invaluable resource and reference book for all writers. Because of the way our brains are wired, readers empathize more strongly if you don’t name the emotion you are trying to describe. As soon as you name an emotion, readers go into thinking mode. And when they think about an emotion, they distance themselves from feeling it.

A great way to show anger, fear, indifference, and the whole range of emotions that characterize the human experience, is through beats. These action snippets that pepper dialogue can help describe a wide range of emotions, while avoiding lazy writing. The power of beats lies in their innate ability to create richer, more immediate, deeper writing.

This book includes hundreds of examples that you can use for your inspiration, so that you, too, can harness this technique to easily convert your writing into palpable feelings.

Well, there you have it. I enjoyed these and many more books throughout the year and all but two of these authors I discovered through the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB! It pays to belong! 

Of course, I’d be thrilled if you’d check out my own books and you can find them all here!

Or visit my website for more information!

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