There was an Old Lady Who … Wait Stop Telling Me.

Ever want to re-write the classics?  I mean, with everything you are learning as a writer/author you can do better.  Yeah.  I don’t know about that always.  Today though, as I stood brushing my teeth it came to me.  Show vs tell – again!   I know. I am obsessed. It happens to be the one thing that was killing my writing above everything else.   

Sure I still have grammar mistakes and odd sentences here and there.  Sure I sometimes think everyone is in my head.  But – show vs tell was killing me from getting a publisher.

So let’s look at the sentence and rhyme “there was an old lady who lived in a shoe.”

There are a million ways to write any sentence.  But I think this rhyme is riddled with tell.  Here is my attempt at making it more “showy.”

An old lady live in a shoe.  The seams were bursting. Children were everywhere. Confusion and desperation consumed her.

Or

An old lady lived in a shoe. She balanced a kid in each arm and watched the countless others run amuck.

Well it was worth a try. This rhyme wouldn’t be what it is, written any other way. It’s still an example of what authors are told daily, what not to do. So good luck. I hope you find inspiration or a laugh from this today.

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Thoughful Tuesday – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Anyone else suffer from not getting what you want done or lacking the motivation to try and get anything done?  I always figured I was simply lazy.  Turns out during the winter I can claim “SAD.”SAD

In a nutshell it’s a type of depressions that occurs during the part of the year with the least amount of sunlight – usually winter ,at least in my hemisphere.  Do I really I have it?  I don’t know.  I find it funny though that we have a name for everything these days.  What I find entertaining about this disorder is that one suggested treatment is to make your environment sunnier and brighter – right okay.  So who is going to pay me to write in the South of France or the Polynesian Islands.  Okay – sure, I will settle for Hawaii too.

So how about you?  Do you suffer from “SAD” or have you come across some interesting disorders that make you go, “What?”

For more on SAD – Mayo Clinic.

 

Show Me Don’t Tell Me

A lot of writers can write and tell a story.  The issue is simply that, we tell.  So what does it mean to show vs. tell?  When an editor or an agent comes back with this comment it usually puts the writer into a tail spin.  Isn’t it always easier to point a finger at a general problem rather than point out the exact issue.

To over simplify the problem I think the best summary I can give you is this: any time you say she felt, or he looked you are telling rather than showing.  If you are using 1 sentence to get into the house, you are probably telling.  What can you do?  Stop and envision.  Watch the scene as a movie in your head.  Movies are show not tell – for obvious reasons. When you describe a movie scene how do you show someone in words so they understand?

What sounds better?  Marci walked thru the door.   Or Marci turned the knob and crossed the threshold.  One implies action while the other is stating the obvious. It really all in the word choice.  Is either wrong?  No.  But showing is preferred by almost every agent, editor, and publisher out there.  The idea is to choose strong verbs that entice the reader to envision the action.

Another example:  Jamie felt like her life was over and cried. Or Jamie’s heart thudded and her chest felt tight.  Her eyes burned as she let loose a flood of tears.

Jane walked into a dark room and felt instantly scared. OR Jane was surrounded by black as she entered the room.  Her hands began to shake and her breathing grew rapid. 

 Showing will add more words.  This isn’t bad as long as each word was chosen carefully and aids in helping your reader understand what is going.  I am no expert, but I am working on my own process at the same time so I hope this helps.  Someone told me that telling can actually speed along the story – in a bad way.  So slow it down, add some details, and let the reader escape.

If you have a great example or some useful show vs. tell advice please comment below! Happy Monday and Happy writing.

Fun Fact Friday – Where You Learn the Big Words

Winnie the pooh has some very large words in it.  Words that I didn’t even know existed.  This has to be good for me and our children, right?

So I’m thankful for some new words from an unlikely source. Who knew toddlers would expand my horizons.  Sure they suck up all your time, but at least I am being educated.  A word that only Winnie the Pooh could have taught me: Remuneration.  That being said why is it that they spell honey wrong throughout and use the wrong tail = tale spelling?  For those that use words every day I am sure that we are all trying to inspire adults to keep learning and young children to stretch their imaginations.  Is Winnie the Pooh helping or not?  I learn new words but repeatedly see another word misspelled.  I actually had to sit back and think hard about what was the correct spelling for a word that is almost second nature normally.

This isn’t my typical fun fact Friday but I am interested in where we all learn new words to write the impossible or express human emotion.  At some point you have to expand your own horizons in order to fully express what it is you are trying to communicate to the rest of the world.  I hope you will share your thoughts; sorry no remuneration other then gratitude will be given.