Friday, July 8, 2011

Acting Out --Instead of Telling

I’m working my way through a finished book, revising, and it struck me as I typed away that a good lesson to talk about is developing ‘telling’ scenes into ‘showing’ scenes.

I wanted to include a scene about Audra’s little sister and brother. I’d cut it from a spot where I thought it stopped the action and I’d been looking for a way to insert it. So I decided this was it, but as I tried to work it in I realized this was a ‘telling’ scene and could be reworked.

I’m just going to post the two different scenes and we can talk about them.

Seth=Hero's pesky brother
Lily=infant Maggie=toddler
This is their first meal at home after a marriage of convenience between Audra and Ethan.

Here’s the original scene
Audra had turned out to be a hand at cooking. Ethan had about decided being married was going to work out fine when the first baby cried. Seth’s chatter was welcome, even if he only made sense about half the time.

They were about halfway finished with the meal when a cry came from upstairs.

“Lily’s awake.” Ethan pushed his chair back. “I’ll get her.”

He left the kitchen quickly, thinking to prevent Maggie from waking up, but it wasn’t to be.

“We need to feed Maggie.” Audra already had potatoes mashed on a plate when Ethan came down with both girls in his arms. “And we need milk.”

“I’ll take one of them,” Seth reached out his arms.

Here’s the developed scene:

“Ethan, you have yeast!” Audra turned from the cupboards and threw herself into his arms.

It was at that exact moment that Ethan decided being married was going to work out fine.

“I can get you all the yeast you want, little darlin’.” And he meant every word. Her arms were strong and warm and the rest of her was real nice too. He hugged her back hard just to make sure.

Audra laughed then whirled away to go through the rest of the cupboards.

It wasn’t long before he sat chewing on a thick, savory venison steak, eating the smoothest mashed potatoes he’d ever seen. She ladled on steaming hot gravy and set biscuits on the table that were straight from the oven.

“We’ll have bread for breakfast but I had to make do with biscuits tonight.”

Ethan smiled at her and their eyes caught. “It’s all real good, Audra. Thank you for this fine meal.”

Her smile changed to something warmer and kinder. Her eyes widened. And for a second Ethan thought she might be able to smile and cry at the same time.

“I’m never gonna say a kind word to you again, woman, if you start crying.”

That made her laugh for no reason he could understand, but if threatening her made her happy, he’d go ahead and do it real regular. Women were a mystery.

“My last husband never complimented a thing I did, you just took me by surprise is all. I won’t cry a single tear, not even tears of happiness.”

“See that you don’t.”

She laughed again and whirled back to the stove in such a pretty way it was almost dancing.

“I think she’s a pretty good trade for Rafe, don’t you, Ethan?” Seth was smiling while he scooped food into his mouth.

“We’ve done well for ourselves for a fact, little brother.”

Audra looked over her shoulder and grinned, then went back to work. She straightened from her pots with a plate of food for herself then sat down with them.

“Ethan, something’s been worrying me and I’d like to ask you what you think.”

Her smile was gone and Ethan braced himself for some new strange female request. “Go ahead.”

Audra rested her fingers on her lips while she gave Ethan a worried look. He decided then and there he’d do anything to keep her smiling. "I’ve told you about my little sister and brother, haven’t it?”

“I know you’ve worried you pa might not treat your little sister right.”

“Her name is Caroline. She’s thirteen now, so I don’t think Father would force her to marry anyone for a few years.”

Little worry lines appeared on Audra’s brow and Ethan wanted to reach over and smooth them away. “What can we do to get her away from him?”

That did it. The lines disappeared. Ethan was surprised by the feeling that he’d performed some heroic deed.

Audra’s smile returned. Not so full and carefree as before, but a beautiful smile all the same. “Thank you, Ethan.”

“I haven’t done anything yet.”

“Yes, but knowing you want to and you’re willing to help makes all the difference.” Audra drew in a slow breath like she was working up the nerve to say something. Ethan waited, hoping he could rescue her again.

“Do you think we could get her and bring her to live with us.”

Ethan was quiet, thinking of how to get to the girl, get her away from a pa who might not want to give her up, get her all the way west. How long would it take? Who should go?

“We don’t have to, Ethan. I’m sorry.” Audra cut into his thoughts.

“What?” Ethan had been lost in his planning. “What are you sorry for?”

“I can tell you don’t want to do it.”

“I was just planning whether I should just head for Texas and snatch her away and bring her home or take you with me. Reckon she’d be scared if I kidnapped her.” Ethan looked at Seth. “And I suppose the law might take a dim view. But if I take Audra then I have to take the babies—”

Audra cut off his planning by laughing. “So we can do it? We can bring her here?”

Ethan nodded. “Sure, she’s my sister too, now. You pa sounds like a polecat, so we’d best get her away from him. And we probably oughta fetch your little brother along, too. Your pa’s gotta be a mighty bad example of a man for him to grow up learning from.”

Audra got up and hugged him again. Ethan decided he was taking to this husband business right quick.

“There’s no rush.” Audra kissed him on the cheek then sat down. Her eyes were shining with unshed tears, but Ethan decided they weren’t all that scary, and he didn’t scold her for them.

“You want to bring your ma out, too?”

Audra laughed.

“Because if I it’ll get a kiss and a hug out of you, I’d probably let you move your whole family into the house.”

“Probably not.” She giggled for a while before she got herself under control. “I suspect she’d kick up a fuss. But thank you for offering. Now let’s eat. The food’s getting cold.”

They were about halfway finished with the meal when the first baby cried.

“Lily’s awake.” Ethan pushed his chair back. “I’ll get her.”

He left the kitchen quickly, thinking to prevent Maggie from waking up, but it wasn’t to be. By the time he swung the door open, Maggie was sitting up, rubbing tear-stained eyes, her bottom lip curled down.

Lily was working her way up to a temper tantrum. Maggie forgot her pouting when she saw him and smiled. Ethan picked them both up without coming even close to dropping one of them on her head. He was real proud of his handiness.

When he got downstairs Audra already had potatoes dished up for Maggie.

“I heard her.” Audra smiled at him like they were a real team at being parents and Ethan liked being married even more. “Hang onto them for just a second while I pour some milk. Then I’ll take Maggie.”

“I’ll take one of them,” Seth reached out his arms.

Mary again—one of the best things about showing ….or as I think of it, acting out a scene...the scene is much, much longer. And we’re trying to fill a whole entire complete gigantic book with words so we need LONGER, right?

What do you think? Are there places in your book that can be acted out?


Helen Gray said...

Ooh, I'm just finished editing an entire manuscript, and longer is still needed. Great timing. Need to go back and check some scenes.

Coffee's ready and waiting.


Camy Tang said...

I love this before and after shot, Mary! And this scene totally makes me want to read this book!

Virginia said...

Mmm, I need some mashed potatos and gravy!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Stinkin' charming.

That's what you made this scene into, Mary Connealy, just stinkin' charming.

I'm already over-the-top in love with Ethan and Audra is my new bff because she's not a whiner.


So what's their conflict? Because I'm ready to stamp HEA on this and write 'the end' because I KNOW they're the perfect couple.

Sooo.... what happens. Seth turns into an outlaw? Seth gets kidnapped by outlaws? Audra finds out she's still married? Ethan finds out he married the wrong girl? Ethan gets sick? Audra gets pregnant in a way that defies the laws of mankind as we know it, shrouded under a veil of mashed potatoes and yeast bread?


Tell more. Not too much. Just a smidge. Pretty please.

Friday breakfast! I'm cookin' today, I'm In The Mood, so we're doin' skillet frittata, Texas Toast, flapjacks and a pot o' honey to celebrate Mary's post of the old West!

Christy LaShea said...

Umm hmm! Breakfast smells delish! Looks like I arrived just in time.

Mary, thanks so much for the before and after of the scene. I struggle with this. I look at my own work and can't "see" how to show the scene sometimes. This is an awesome example.

I'm like Ruthy, wondering where the conflict will be, otherwise, this is a perfect couple :) Good job!

Renee Ann said...

I love this before and after. It's a great example, and it made me want to read the book!

Audra Harders said...

Yeast? Do I really know what to do with yeast? Wow, I love the new me, LOL!

Who needs conflict when you've got a hunk of cowboy sitting at the table and wanting to make you happy? Only kidding. Sort of.

Nevermind. We all know a Mary Connealy novel does not disappoint. So, what blows up??

Anita Mae Draper said...

Great post, Mary. But I have to tell ya, when I first read your title, I looked for a video of you actually 'acting it out'. LOL

One of my writing struggles is between showing and telling so this is great stuff. Thanks.

Anita Mae.

Pepper said...

Are there places in my book that need to be acted out?

Do mashed potatoes need gravy?
Does Mary need Oreos?

Sigh- I'm afraid there are WAY too many scenes where I need to act things out. I'm feeling the sting all the more right now as I go through my contemp romance and grown. I've already decided I can chop out another chapter, increase the tension, increase the shwoing,and decrease the redundancy.
But that means I have to...gulp...chop.

Ruthy would be so proud!

Pepper said...

Okay, Audra
I just grinned like an idiot at your phrase
"hunk of cowboy"

Yep - that 'bout says it for Ethan, doesn't it? :-)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Mary, What a tease you are to get us all into these characters and then stop.

I'm with Audra and Pepper. "All I need is more of the 'hunk of cowboy'

Nice breakfast Ruthy. I love frittatas.

Thanks for showing the difference. That show don't tell was such a mystery when I first started writing. These examples help.

Denise Hunter said...

Can't wait to read the entire book!!

Joanne Sher said...

Super, SUPER example of showing vs. telling. So incredibly helpful!

Lori Benton said...

The second scene was more engaging by far, Mary. Your writing always leaves me smiling.

"And we’re trying to fill a whole entire complete gigantic book with words so we need LONGER, right?"

Oh, if it were only so in my case! I have to look and look for scenes like this that I can cut down and lose all that lovely back and forth, because I end up acting out everything. Filling up a book is never an issue for me. Not overflowing it is. Can't tell you how often I think I'll whip out a scene in about 500 words, and it turns into 1500 because the characters start to feel and smell and hear and touch everything. My first historical came in at over 300K, and I had to do the reverse of this post's example in so many cases, turn a scene I'd acted out (which wasn't strictly necessary to move the story forward) into a couple of lines of telling.

Now, telling between those scenes that are needed and those that aren't is proving key.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Mary, I know you had no way of knowing that this was a topic I needed to discuss today, but thanks anyway! :D

I've been working hard to make sure I act out all my scenes. Here's the funny thing - and I know it's not just me because I just spotted evidence of the same thing in Brandilyn Collins' and Ted Dekker's books. In the process of showing (getting rid of "feel" and "think" type words), I found that not only is the story longer, but passive verbs spring up.

I find this amusing and confusing. We want tight stories with fewer words, yet it takes longer to show than to tell. We want more action, but in describing the action we have more passive words.

For example:
Ted Dekker in Black -

He sat up, disoriented. The shadows of tall, dark trees surrounded a rocky clearing in which he'd been sleeping. His eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and he saw a field of some kind ahead.

He stood to his feet and steadied himself. On his feet, leather moccasins. On his body, dark pants, tan suede shirt with two pockets. He instinctively felt for his left temple, where a sharp ache throbbed. His fingers came away bloody.

He'd been struck in his dream. He turned and saw a dark patch glistening on the rock where he'd fallen. He must have fallen, struck his head against the rock, and been knocked unconscious. But where was he? Maybe the knock to his head had given him amnesia.

What was his name? Thomas. The man in his dream had called him Thomas Hunter.

Thomas felt the bleeding bump on his head again. The surface wound above his ear matted his hair with blood. It had knocked him senseless, but thankfully no more.

And Brandilyn Collins in Exposure -

Kaycee shuddered.

She looked down Village Circle, running to the left of the barn into the apartment complex of Jessamine Village. All was quiet. Not unusual for nighttime in Wilmore, Kentucky, a small town about twenty minutes south of Lexington.

To the right of Kaycee’s house old Mrs. Foley’s wide front porch was lit. Kaycee stared into the dimness beyond the lamplight, searching for movement.

Swallowing hard, she eyed Mrs. Foley’s silhouette. Las Vegas odds? Maybe. But fears could come true, even one’s worst fear. Hadn’t that happened to Kaycee’s best friend, Mandy Parksley? Mandy had been plagued by the fear that, like her own mother, she would die young and leave her daughter, Hannah, behind. Kaycee insisted that would never come to pass. Mandy was healthy and fit. But at thirty-three she’d suddenly developed a brain tumor – and died within nine months.

Mrs. Foley’s head moved slightly, as if she was trying to see inside Kaycee’s car. That did it. Time to flush the woman out. Kaycee clicked on the light inside her Cruiser, leaned sideways, and waved with animation. “Hey there, Mrs. Foley!” She forced the words through clenched teeth.

So, do you see how they show the story, yet in showing they use passive verbs? I found I was doing that and thought "I must be doing something wrong." Now, I'm not so sure.

What are your thoughts?

One large cup of British Breakfast tea. Mmm...

Linnette R Mullin said...

BTW, Mary, I LOVE this scene and I WANT this book!!! What's the title and when is it due to be published?

Patty Wysong said...

I like the idea of acting out a scene. That really clicks in my brain. =] Thanks, Mary. =]

Glynna Kaye said...

Beautifully and masterfully done, Mary!! Bravo!

Audra Harders said...

Lori, I do believe the good Lord has blessed you with an OVER abundance of words : )

300,000 words? You and Julie. What a pair.

Mary Connealy said...

What's their conflict? Let's see. Audra has been pushed around by the men in her life and she's determined to grow a backbone. So she practices on Ethan.
Two bad guys set the barn on fire and try to kidnap Audra, who saves herself with her quick thinking, but Ethan gets burned in the fire.
Ethan has taken over Rafe's ranch because Rafe found a better one and all the hired hands keep doing things Rafe's way and doubting Ethan's strength.
Ethan refuses to feel anything deeply because love has cost him too much, and he'd deeply ashamed of being a coward during an accident which left Seth terrible scarred as a child.
Ethan and Audra are well suited on a very shallow level because they're both just sort of 'yes men' you might say.
But to get to a deeper level for either of them, to truly risk their hearts, is almost impossible.
And Seth, well, he's been a little crazy ever since that childhood accident and we need to get him sane enough to be the hero of his own book.

Mary Connealy said...

I have a ... you might call it Discipline ... or policy maybe, of going through a book in the revision stage and looking for places I showed when I should've been telling.

It lengthens a book for sure, but acting out this scene...first of all, I needed a place to set Audra's concerns for her little brother and sister before Ethan.

Those two children may be starring in their own book someday. So I had this very 'telling' scene and I was looking for a place to include this worry for Audra, so the two meshed.

Also, I could show so much. Audra can cook. We weren't sure because Julia, her adult step-daughter, and the heroine of Book #1 of the Kincaid Brides series was so much in charge we weren't sure about Audra.

Ethan is masking a deep and quickly growing affection for Audra with shallow thing. Get her to smile. Get her to hug him. Try and be a hero to her with child care and granting her wishes.

Mary Connealy said...

Audra...I mean Seeker Audra now my book's Audra....the barn blows up.

Mary Connealy said...

Lori....300,000 words!!!!!!!!!!

Whoa girl, you are the real thing. A writer for sure.

Uh...could you make it a three book series somehow?

Jan Drexler said...

Perfect, perfect timing! This post is just what I need today!

I'm starting the rewrite of my WIP today, and I KNOW that I've blithely written my way through the book SHOWING everything. I let myself do that so the story could get itself down on paper, but now the real work starts.

Thank you for the great example, Mary.

And I want to read this book. Today. Forget my to-do list.

And Ruthy? Delicious breakfast! Makes me want to go out and round up some stray cattle.

Mary Connealy said...

Linnette, the thing with showing instead of telling is, telling is a rookie mistake.
My first books were all telling, little showing.

But like all 'rules' in writing, it's about balance. Sometimes you want to tell, you want to hit some point quickly and move on. But you have to do it by choice not accident.
Does that make sense?

If you choose telling as the best way to handle a scene, then do it.

But if you just don't know the difference, then is when you need to study and revise and make a conscious decision about showing and telling.

So you're clearly far to advance to need my advance, sweetie. (isn't that a nice thought???)

Linnette R Mullin said...

LOL Thanks, Mary! I've had a lot of good help, both here and other writers/editors for some reason taking me under their wing. Have no idea why, but a few out there seem inclined to answer my begs for help. :D God has been good.

And I totally get what you're saying. Thank you for spelling it out that way for me. That helps a lot!

Anonymous said...

Great post.

I'm not patient and would only show the really exciting scenes. But then my book would only be about 20,000 words.

Please enter me into the 5 page critique.

bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

Mary Connealy said...

Jan, I do this on a first draft a lot. Tell a scene...or more likely show a scene but very briefly.

I know what I want to accomplish in a scene but I want to get the story down.

I had a scene in Petticoat Ranch that I still remember doing this on.

It was a huge climatic scene that I'd been building toward for the whole book.

The bad guys were coming. Adam was coming. Buff and Luther were coming. The whole book, especially Adam, Buff and Luther were these secondary characters who'd been heading for Sophie and Clay on an urging from God that they couldn't understand.

So Clay gets a knife thrown at him. It knocks him off his horse. The bad guy comes to finish him off.
Sophie is out doing 'men's' work and comes just as Clay is attacked.
The bad guy hurts Clay.
Sophie gets the drop on the bad guy.
The bad guy's gang gets the drop on Sophie.
Adam, Luther and Buff get the drop on the bad guys.

This scene was just (too my mind) crucial to get right.

And it just went on and on and on!

I could NOT wrap it up.

I came to think of that scene as 'getting down off the mountain.'

I just could NOT get them through this scene. It seems now like it went on for about three chapters, no kidding.

Finally, in frustration, I just had Clay throw Sophie over his lap and ride down to the cabin. Just to get them moving forward.

I changed that later, somewhat, but it was a pure act of desperation on my part because I was bringing so many threads together and I just kept tweaking and adding and revising to get it to all come together smoothly.

So, long answer when what I really meant to say was, "you're right."

:) Sorry, got kinda wordy there.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Was Black Hills Blessing one of your first?

Erica Vetsch said...

I love it when you act out, Mary! :D

Mary Connealy said...

And this scene is from The Kincaid Brides Book #2. In Too Deep. Coming in February. I used it because that's one of my May 'Five Car Pile-up' books and I was revising this scene when I realized it'd make a good blog post.
BTW, book #1 comes in August
Out of Control
Book #2 February
In Too Deep
Book #3 August 2012
Over the Edge

I love these titles.
Out of Control, the controlling older brother Rafe
In Too Deep, the shallow charming middle brother Ethan.
Over the Edge, the reckless, maybe crazy little brother Seth

Mary Connealy said...

Linnette, Black Hills Blessing wasn't the first released...but one of the books in that 3 in 1 collection, Clueless Cowboy, is I think the 2nd book I wrote. All those long years ago. I love that book and of course it is MUCH better know 'cuz I learned how to write and revised it with my shiny new skills. But oh, so long ago, probably six months into my writing life, I came in third in a writing contest with that book. That gave me enough encouragement to go on.

Mary Connealy said...

No, six months into my writing life I began WRITING Clueless Cowboy. It then had the title, The Farmer TAkes a Husband.

I probably didn't finish it and enter it in contest for quite a while after that.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Great job, Mary! I love the way your heroes and heroines interact!

It took me a long time to figure out show vs. tell, to really, really understand it, and I'm still learning, because a couple of days ago I figured out something else about it. It was kind of effervescent so I don't know if I can explain it here, but it had to do with not telling how a character feels, but just letting the reader figure it out by what the character DOESN'T DO. I know that doesn't make much sense, but I guess the point is that I'm still learning all the intricacies of showing and telling. And I still sometimes want to "tell" a scene rather than letting the characters act it out, because it's just easier to tell. And I'm still learning how to show characters' feelings without spelling it out every time.

And AUDRA!!! Audra is getting greedy, trying to get us all to name her characters after her. Mm-hm, I'm onto her.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great advice, Mary! I was just debating (with myself!) about a scene that I had happened 'off-camera'. And now I think I should SHOW it on-camera.

Thanks for making that decision click!


Linnette R Mullin said...

Well, I think it's one of the better "Barbour trilogies." Some of those 3-n-1 books are absolutely nothing but telling. I could tell it was early on for you, but was impressed that you wrote it so well. Really!

And I WANT EVERY BOOK in the Kincaid series! :D Ethan's a somewhat shallow charmer, is he? Hmm... That was a nice little hint at possible coming conflict.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, Mare, I love that they have reflective issues and keep it light on the surface.

That's brilliant.

I think it's harder to write reflective hero/heroines where they share qualities that make the union doubtful or downright impossible. Opposites are so much easier to 'meld', one's strength helps the other's weakness.

But this takes a finesse beyond that, and you used that in Montana Rose. Both Red and Cassie were sweet, anxious to please personalities and the conflict arose from that.

Love that book. Still.

Linnette R Mullin said...

I'm with you, Melanie! So hard to show feelings instead of telling sometimes. I catch myself using the same phrases over and over. Which sometimes is fine because it might be a quirk, but you can't have a dozen different quirks through out the book, you know?

KC Frantzen said...

Maaaaa-rrryyy, you had some 'splainin' to do, and did it we. Acting. Yes. Did you hear the "click" in my head?

Good post, comments, and breakfast!

Janet Dean said...

Wow, Mary, thanks for sharing your revision process! The changes you made are fabulous! Showing is way more fun! I love your heroine and hero and all the adorable kids. When can I read the entire story??


Mary Connealy said...

Melanie and Linnette, showing vs telling in emotios is particularly wise.
He bared his teeth.
He clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white.
Her eyes shown with unshed tears.

These all show emotions

But a really common mistake writers make is to say,

He clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white. He was furious.

The first sentence i s terrific, the second is a dead, annoyin thing. It's just not necessary. Your our reader gets it, trust them to get it. His knuckles, his fists, trust them to get that he's angry. The second sentence drags the story to a dead stop, even if only briefly.

Myra Johnson said...

What a fun example, Mary! I love watching scenes play out in my head like real life. The nuances of setting, the subtle body language, all the little things going on around the characters that enhance or detract from their scene/story goals.

Speaking of which, I left a couple of characters in limbo right before we made the final big apartment-to-house move. Hoping to get back to them first thing next week and sort things out.

Jan Drexler said...

Anger is a great emotion to show.

Fear is another one -

"A cold curl twisted in his gut and made his feet want to run. He steadied his hands and took another sip."

The emotion I really have trouble with is love from the heroine's perspective. I can get the hero's actions (I just pay attention to what my dear husband does!), but I guess I need to pay more attention to what I do to act out my love for him.

Missy Tippens said...

Excellent example, mary! Thanks for sharing. Of course, now I want to grab the book to keep reading! :)

Linnette R Mullin said...

Great example, Mary. Thanks!

Here's a question for all. What is your opinion about a man who winks?

I'll explain myself after I get some feed back. Don't want to put any thoughts in your head. :D

Nancy Kimball said...

Pepper, I can so relate! I'm in revisions right now and fighting word count (though not as much as Lori! WOW, I thought my 110K was a beast of a book hehe).
I'm going to cut an entire chapter of what I thought was a great scene to have the word count to strengthen others. (Loved the before and after Mary, and yes, it sure does up that word count!)

Like Mary says... strike balance between showing and telling. If a rookie mistake is too much tell, I don't want to go too far the other direction and show every single thing.

Thanks to my crit partner, a lengthy scene and narrative passage became this...

"It had been seven months. She's returned every single one of his scrolls unopened for the last seven months. Though this last one she burned before sending back. Torren looked at the mangled wax that had been his seal in the pouch of ash his servant handed him. So much for diplomacy."

Audra Harders said...

Melanie, you do a beautiful job of showing vs telling. I think S v T is one of the hardest concepts to learn next to POV.

Julie Lessman said...

MARY -- LOVE IT!!! But then I love everything you write, sweetie!!

And I have to laugh at your comment that "one of the best things about showing ….or as I think of it, acting out a scene...the scene is much, much longer."

DUH! So THAT'S how I keep getting those 500-plus-page books!!! I was wondering about that ... :) Uh, I just may need a wee bit more of telling in my books ...


Mary Connealy said...

Nancy, I love the 'telling' scene. You got a lot in there, her burning the scroll. So much for diplomacy.
Sharp and funny, I get what she's feeling for sure.

Mary Connealy said...

I've seen heroes wink in books. It can be fun.

Mary Connealy said...

i just read a paragraph, I wish I'd kept track of it, from a published book.
And it was so over the top with the talking 'eyes'.
It had about seven emotions flashing in the guy's eyes. in two sentences.
I try and control that because it can get silly. I'll give you an example I'm just making up. But I swear it was this bad.

His eyes flashed with anger and regret, and a hint of rueful humor as she stood toe to toe with him.
As she prepared to tell him they were through, forever this time, she saw something else. Something that stopped her. Behind the anger was fear and shame and maybe just a hint of love.

That's a lot for one set of eyes.

Digging for Pearls said...

You are amazing Mary! You made the passage sing with the new changes...guess that's why I love reading your work and am always anxious for your newest book to find it's way into my eager hands! :)

I will definitely be printing this post off to peruse later, again and again. :)


Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Cannot believe they are the same scene :)

Linnette R Mullin said...

It's a great feeling to come to the end of a scene and just know you've nailed it! When I find myself smiling or laughing, crying or wanting to throw something across the room, well, it's just good!

Mary Connealy said...

You guys are all so nice.
I need to take a break and go quietly weep with gratitude of your kindness.

What's the emoticon for happy tears?

:( :0 :)

Ok forget it.
( .. )
( )
That's the emoticon for that famous painting The Scream.

Forget it, too.

Jan Drexler said...

I think Mary needs some Oreos. She's getting loopy on us.

Linnette R Mullin said...

(((hugs))) Mary! You really are amazing. :D Even more so because you graciously share you amazing-ness with us. :D

Audra Harders said...

You got the fish, Mary. Where are the chips??

Anonymous said...

you use yeast to make biscuits? hmm learn something new every day (can tell I haven't made them yet HA!)

cute - I'm so behind in my reading - I need to be able to retire and just read!:-)

I'm gonna have to go to your website or something to figure out the order of all these series and which ones go together!


Mary Connealy said...

I could eat fish and chips right now.

And Susannah, did it read that way, that you use yeast to make biscuits? I'd been go reviise. No, her point is, "Ethan, you have yeast!!"
Which means tomorrow we can have real bread...because he has yeast.

But tonight we'll have to settle for biscuits. And of course Ethan is thrilled with the lowly biscuits and even more in awe of real bread.

He's a bachelor, baby.

Mary Connealy said...

An Oreo would also be welcome.

Anonymous said...

oh ok the yeast is for the bread that makes sense! I'd rather have bread too - only like biscuits if I can have my mom's milk gravy and scrambled eggs with them. I just read the excitement of the yeast then he was eating biscuits and she was promising bread for breakfast. must be pretty primitive conditions to be happy over yeast(I wouldn't know what to do with it!) and a huge-mongous bag of chocolate would make me happier!


Cara Lynn James said...

I love how you made a great scene out of showing and added all those great, extra words! Expanding a book doesn't seem so difficult when you just write the scene instead of just telling.

Debby Giusti said...

Love your heroes, Mary. They have such big hearts. And the women expose all the wonderful warmth the men try so hard to hide. Always makes me smile.

Loved your expanded scene. Delightful. Now I want to read the book.

Show, don't tell! So important. Often something we can fix in the rewrites when we add and embellish.

At times we have to "tell" quickly to move on to the next important "show" scene. But the big moments need to be seen through the character's POV as they experience the action and pull the reader along for a wonderful ride.

Thanks for providing such a fun example!

Cara Lynn James said...

Mary, I have to say I also have trouble controlling the eyes and how often I mention them. So much emotion is expressed through the eyes. Maybe my characters will have to learn to emote some other way.

Tina Radcliffe said...

The nice thing about being a writer is you are always learning. Thanks for the post Mary, Mary. I am printing it up.

Anonymous said...

This was perfect for me today, Mary. Exactly what I'm doing w/my wip...and another one I had put away, thinking it was "finished".....hahahahahaha

And Ruth, I did not think of the conflict hint that could be added. Thanks for that, too.

Gail Kittleson

Laura in Texas said...

Thank you for this post. I really appreciated the before and after example, which "SHOWED" (instead of just telling) what is meant by showing instead of telling. :-) Very helpful. Thank you.

Pam K. said...

The first scene was sort of okay but the developed scene made me want to read the book! It tells so much more about the characters and makes me want to learn more about them. Your "voice" also shines in the developed scene. The first one could have been written by anyone.

Anonymous said...

I like the second best, Mary, and it makes me so hungry for the book! Ethan sounds so delightful.