Monday, March 16

Show, Don't Tell



Hey, everybody, Nan here!** Monday is usually Liz's day to post, but circumstances beyond her control have prevented her from being here today, so I'm pinch-hitting. Now she owes me, which brings me no end of fiendish pleasure! <grin> So...

I’ve been writing this week and that’s a very good thing. This is only big news because I haven’t been writing for a while. I’d allowed the editing gigs and the rest of my life to take over. But for the last week, I’ve been writing and editing and rewriting and editing again…  And then it’s time to turn the finished chapters over to my critique partner.

One of the most difficult things for me to do is release my work to my critique partner, Cheryl. Not because she’s unkind. She’s terrific and always gracious even when she has to shred my work. She’s amazing—a prolific writer, who’s had several novels published and continues to crank out great work endlessly.  She writes romance, as well as other genre fiction, but she just seems to be able to simply sit down and write—words pour out of her like water pours over Niagara Falls. I’m both envious and very impressed. She’s an amazing world builder and her writing is simply gorgeous. I want to write with Cheryl’s ease when I’m a grown-up author.

Although I clutch when I send her my work, I know it will come back to me with clear, thoughtful edits that will make me a better writer. Cheryl knows my strengths and weaknesses and never fails to point out both. She understand how, even though I make my living as a copyeditor, when I write, I am so caught up in the storytelling that punctuation becomes secondary. She graciously corrects that kind of stuff, but concentrates more on the story itself. Often a “This gave me goose bumps!” or a smiley face comment shows up next to a scene she really likes.

But just as frequently, I get “Show me!” Then I have to take a deep breath, get rid of whatever dull, passive description I’ve used, and create a scene where my reader can see the action, feel the emotion, or be right there in the situation. Showing, not telling has been one of my hardest lessons as a writer, but I couldn’t have a better teacher. Cheryl makes me stretch and use my vocabulary to create characters and scenes that are strong and interesting. I’m growing as a writer thanks to her.

She challenges me like no creative writing teacher ever did and I love her for that. If I haven’t said it lately, Cheryl, thanks! You’re the best!

**The picture today has nothing to do with anything at all except it's of the lake and I think it's pretty and I want to go there...

6 comments:

  1. Great post, Nan! And thanks for the reminder...first passes are always the place where I forget to show - emotion, description, what have you...and sometimes (rarely) where I show tooooo much and have to bring it back because I've completely stopped the story.

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    1. Yeah, but first passes is where you get it all out--the rest of the passes are the clean-up, so don't change your process, just make sure you're staying active and getting those emotions in and putting your reader right there. Thanks, Kristi!

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  2. I love beta readers/critique partners. They really push me to add more. I sometimes get the "Show me!" comment as well as "Add more emotion." Both help me to make my writing better. :)

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    1. Aren't they wonderful, Chrys? Couldn't do this without them! Thanks for coming by!

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  3. Great post, Nan! Thanks for covering for me!

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  4. I need a Cheryl! Great post.

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