Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear reading writers, some questions...

Much thanks to author Deanna Wadsworth for her crash course in networking. Did you catch it? Please visit her blog
Her class came just in time--I'm attending the "Secure Footing in a Changing Literary Landscape" symposium this Friday (organized by The Writers' Union of Canada).
This is what I'll be wearing...

(You may recognize this cardigan. I featured it in a prior post. The problem was I had run out of yarn. My solution I broke down and bought more.)

and this what I'll be holding...

(The business card (with my photo on it) I designed, printed and cut--it's not that professional, but it better than a scribble on a napkin.)

Deanna has challenged me to make three social contacts during this event. Let's see how I do. I'll report back.
Here's my excuse, in case I need one, I'm an introvert and socializing is challenging for this dyslexic.


Okay, so, with the understanding that the only silly question is the one not asked, here are some questions for you...
Writer's maxim: show don't tell
How much do you show?
How you decided what to show and what not to?
Is it ever appropriate to tell? When? Why?

Work on work in progress

Word count: 33, 768 words

A new sentence added: They were solidly built, had fair complexions and board, round faces.


Anonymous said...

Before she retired, my writing teacher at UW-Madison, Laurel Yourke, used to pound home every class, "SHOW, DON'T TELL!" She'd punctuate this command by pounding her fist on the desk. Here's an example she might have used to explain what she meant:

Don't TELL your readers that the kite is is the sky. Rather, SHOW them by painting them a word picture...

Like a mother hen, the busty wind currents carried the timid kite with it's fearful tail high up into the turquoise blue sky. As it soared upward, encouraged by each new current, the kite gained courage until the flicking tail seemed to be that of a tiger!

The Sweater Curse said...

Thank you Laurie for your comment and example.
How much showing should you do? How do decided what to show? When do you stop? Is it ever time to tell?

Anonymous said...

The rest of your questions are excellent:

How much showing should you do?
If I had to quantify it, I would say at least half of the time.

How do you decide what to show?
If the reader would benefit from a description (i.e., a character is angst-ridden because they constantly bite their nails, or tap their fingertips). Then I show it.

When do you stop?
When it feels overdone (Kneeling on trembling limbs, through the rusty keyhole I saw faded curtains billow around dust laden panes. Quietly reaching to turn the cracked glass knob, I heard the old southern yellow pine floor boards creak behind me as the hairs raised like gooseflesh on the back of my neck...) That's overdone.

Is it ever time to tell?
Yes! My area of expertise is non-fiction writing (teaching) and while I have ample opportunity to paint vivid word pictures, I must also tell. You've head the famous quote by Dale Carnegis, "Tell the audience what you're going to say, say it; then tell them what you've said."

By the way Leanne, WHERE on your website can I subscribe and receive notification of your new posts via email (as opposed to an RSS feed)?

The Sweater Curse said...

Thank you so much, Laurie. I really appreciate your fine examples.
I'm very pleased that you want to receive notifications of new posts. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to set this up. I do blog daily (except for Saturdays). My blogs go live at 9 AM (PST). Hope this information helps some.

Kathleen Ann Gallagher's Place to Reflect said...

If there's a scene with a long conversation between the characters, where one is explaining a past event, it may be better to show the scene instead of telling.

Telling is okay when it is delicately weaved in at the right time for needed backstory or thoughts.

You gave us something to think about, Leanne.

The sweater is beautiful!

The Sweater Curse said...

Important point, Kathleen. Thank you for it. Telling the backstory ensure that it doesn't become the story.

(You have fine taste in sweaters. : ) )

rfirasek said...

I try to show everything. Sometimes a sentence just has to be told, because it is really only backstory and I don't want to get into it, but if it's important, I'm showing it. The new sentence you have above is all telling. I would show that. It's important to your setting and your characterizaion. Hope this helps!

The Sweater Curse said...

It does help. Thank you so much for your visit and your comment.