Show. Don’t Tell.

We’ve all heard the line: Show. Don’t tell. But how many of us are actually doing it?

As I edit my manuscripts, I can’t help but notice my need to work on descriptive writing. Descriptive writing seems to be the most challenging for me. It’s not that I don’t know how to do it, it’s just that sometimes, I find myself showing in some parts and then telling in others. Maybe because I’m too excited to go on with the rest of the story in my head. I have to remind myself to stop, use my five senses, and write more details.

As writers, we need to paint perfect pictures for the readers. We want them to feel what we’re feeling and get them involved in the story. By using descriptive writing, we can give them that experience.

While surfing the web today on tips on how to improve writing descriptively, I came across two videos I’d like to share with you. It’s a good way to check if you are indeed showing, and not telling.

To those who find descriptive writing challenging, I hope this helps.

Show. Don’t Tell.

We’ve all heard the line: Show. Don’t tell. But how many of us are actually doing it?

As I edit my manuscripts, I can’t help but notice my need to work on descriptive writing. Descriptive writing seems to be the most challenging for me. It’s not that I don’t know how to do it, it’s just that sometimes, I find myself showing in some parts and then telling in others. Maybe because I’m too excited to go on with the rest of the story in my head. I have to remind myself to stop, use my five senses, and write more details.

As writers, we need to paint perfect pictures for the readers. We want them to feel what we’re feeling and get them involved in the story. By using descriptive writing, we can give them that experience.

While surfing the web today on tips on how to improve writing descriptively, I came across two videos I’d like to share with you. It’s a good way to check if you are indeed showing, and not telling.

To those who find descriptive writing challenging, I hope this helps.

30-Minute Flash Fiction Exercise

They say if you want to be a writer, you need to write every day. I do my best to work on my manuscript(s) every day and blog as often as I can, but because I feel like I need to push myself a little more, I have decided to give flash fiction a try.

30-Minute Flash Fiction Exercise
I’d like to start a new writing exercise on my blog, and I would love it if you could join me. As often as I can, I will post a title for a flash fiction we could all use. If you’d like to participate, simply write a 100-word flash fiction and post it on the comments portion of my 30-Minute Flash Fiction post. Although flash fiction can sometimes go up to 1,000 words, for this exercise, I’d like to stick to only 100 words.

How it works:
I will post a title for our exercise at least once a week. When you’re ready to write, challenge yourself and write your story in 30 minutes or less. It will be interesting to read what we end up writing, given the limited amount of time and the limited number of words. I believe this exercise will help us hone our writing skills and allow us to give each other feedback.

For today, the title will be:
3 a.m. 

My version:

The phone rings.
“Hello,” I answer with my eyes closed.
“It’s Matt.”
My eyes peel open. I glance at the clock.
“What are you doing calling me this late?”
“I need to see you.” His voice sounds desperate.
“What do you mean?”
“I need to see you, Sarah.”
“Not a good idea,” I reply.
“It never is.”
My heart starts racing.
“I’m across the street, at the 24-hour diner,” he says.
“Give me five minutes,” I whisper and hang up.
I stare into the dark.
“Who was that?” Ben turns to face me.
I crawl under the sheets.
“No one.”

 

I look forward to reading your flash fiction. 🙂

Writing Tip #6: Watch Out for Misused Words

I see it happen all the time. Nope, they’re not typos. They’re misused words. They may sound alike, but they are nothing alike.

Here are the most common ones I’ve seen:
farther and further: Farther refers to distance; further refers to extent or degree
lie and lay: In the present tense, lie means to rest; lay means to put or to place
foreword and forward: Foreword is a noun that means an introductory note or preface; Forward is an adjective or adverb that means toward the front:
it’s and its: It’s is a contraction for it is; its is the possessive form of it
past and passed: Passed functions as a verb; past functions as a noun, adjective, or preposition
than and then: Than is a conjunction used in making comparisons; then is an adverb indicating time
their, they’re and there: Their is the possessive form of they; there refers to place; and they’re is the contraction of they are.
your and you’re: Your is the possessive form of you; you’re is the contraction you are

There are also misused words that don’t sound alike:
each other and one another: Each other is used to refer to two people; one another is used to refer to more than two people.
number and amount: Use number to things that can be counted; use amount for things that cannot be counted.

Don’t forget to check your emails and manuscripts for misused words before sending them out.

To see a longer list of misused words, check out my resources:
Easily Confused or Misused Words
The Little Red Writing Book

Writing Tip #4: How to Use Dialogue Tags

Although it may seem that “said” is the most boring and overused dialogue tag, it is actually the most acceptable. Using too many creative dialogue tags like “snarled, groaned, etc.,” can distract the reader from the actual dialogue.

Remember to show, not tell.
Don’t tell the reader how to read your dialogue by using too many creative dialogue tags, instead show them.

The link below has some good examples on this, and on how to avoid the “Creative Dialogue Tag Syndrome”: http://users.wirefire.com/tritt/tip4.html

Here is a helpful post on “Use and Abuse of Dialogue Tags”:
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/said.shtml

I think creative dialogue tags are acceptable in certain cases. The key is to know when and how to use them.

A Must-Have for Writers

Last year for my birthday, my pops gave me a book, and not just any book. It was The Little Red Writing Book, by Brandon Royal. 

From first glance, I knew it would be a helpful tool in my writing adventure, but silly me
didn’t touch it until recently. I opened it a few weeks ago and am now wishing I did it sooner.

This book covers everything you need to know about writing. It talks about structure, style, readability and grammar, and the sections are organized and easy to read. There are also examples and exercises that help you learn with ease.

I thought I knew a lot about writing, until I read this book. I’m using what I’ve learned so far and am writing and editing my manuscripts differently. (Thanks pops!)

If you want to improve your writing skills—get this book! It’s a must-have for all writers.

Happy reading!