Thursday, January 26, 2017

Show Don't Tell Part III



Has anyone ever told you to “show, don’t tell”? Or has anyone ever said your writing is passive and you need to make it active? These are common areas of concern for most writers, yes, even seasoned writers.

The reading audience today is much more sophisticated because they have been exposed to outstanding authors who are continually refining their craft. Not only that, they are super busy and don’t want to waste their time frittering around in what used to be called “purple prose” or “flowery writing”. They want action. They want the hero and heroine to get down to business. And they want it direct and to the point.

So how do we accomplish that?

My critique partner has a keen eye for the “show/don’t tell” writing and calls me to it constantly. You would think I would learn, but honestly, I see the action in my head so think I’m writing it on paper. But in reality, I’m telling the story.  She is constantly putting in the margin the words “show don’t tell.”

Any of you experienced that?

After all of these years of writing, I know what she means. But when I was starting out, I was very puzzled. What do you mean? What are you talking about?




In case you are in that stage of the writing process, I recommend you read the other posts on Show Don’t Tell from our archives. Click here and the second and third post are two that I wrote earlier that explain the basics.

In this post, I’m going to go through and bring out samples of some of the more subtle forms from my last two works in progress and show you what I did. I will put the original version in italics and the revised version in regular red print.

It is easier to grasp the concept when you see the changes. It’s easier to show you rather than tell you.  Okay-bad pun. LOL  But I think this will help you. When you are finished reading the other articles and these examples, go to your work in progress and find similar examples and change them from “telling” to “showing.”  It would help other writers if we could read your examples also.

Please feel free to “show” us ways you have changed your wip to provide more action by showing instead of telling. Those who do will be placed in a drawing for a ten page critique of their wip.

Readers, you might have seen some great examples of showing instead of telling. Share those with us and be in a drawing for a Seeker eBook that is currently available.

Read through these examples. You might even think of better ways to “show.” And while you are reading, please enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with the snickerdoodle cookies I baked this morning.




Relieved that he had changed the subject, she cast him a smile.
Relieved that he had changed the subject, she smiled.

There’s hiking trails in those mountains. Her son said she loved to hike.” Brian had heard Al and Trudy talk about the trails they had taken with their hiking club into the nearby Cuyamaca Mountains. Maybe he could call them and arrange to go with them on one of their outings.”
“There’s hiking trails in those mountains. Her son said she loved to hike.” Brian’s enthusiasm sparked. “My friends, Al and Trudy, talk about the trails they’ve taken with their hiking club into the Cuyamaca Mountains. Maybe I should call them and arrange to go with them on one of their outings.”

The cool drops of rain contrasted with the hot and humid air.
The cool rain drops splashed down through the hot and humid air.

Water lapped against the makeshift dam. Geri ignored her sopping boots and the blisters forming on her hands. She continued to shovel fast.
Water lapped against the makeshift dam. Ignoring her sopping boots and the blisters forming on her hands, she continued to shovel fast.

In no time the boy had made both of them a sandwich. After he ate half of his, he stopped and made a couple for Mark. “He’ll be hungry when he gets back,” Conner explained.
After the boy had made both of them a sandwich, he ate half of his, then he stopped and made a couple for Mark. “He’ll be hungry when he gets back.”

His gaze traveled from the stunning cliffs accented by the green juniper and pine to the washed-out creek bed. Danger lurked in the seeming pastoral beauty.
He gazed from the stunning cliffs accented by the green juniper and pine to the washed-out creek bed. Danger lurked in the seemingly pastoral beauty.

She searched the base of the dome, wishing Mark would round the corner.
Searching the base of the dome, she wished Mark would round the corner.

Adrenalin spurred him onward as he kept up with Geri.
Adrenalin spurred him onward to keep up with Geri.

“Conner! Don’t move!” Geri screamed, drew her pistol and charged the cougar. Shooting into the air, the sound of shots bounced and echoed against the red rock walls. The cougar froze.
“Conner! Don’t move!” Geri screamed, drawing her pistol and charging the cougar. She shot into the air, the sound of shots bouncing and echoing against the red rock walls. The cougar froze.

Relief mingled with concern showed in both Mark’s and Conner’s faces.
Relief mingled with concern glowed in both their faces.

Geri’s laughter rippled through him, as he followed his nephew into the small, but tidy room.
Geri’s laughter rippling through him, he followed his nephew into the small, but tidy room.

Mark sighed with pleasure, as the heat penetrated muscles he’d forgotten he had.
Mark sighed with pleasure, heat penetrating muscles he’d forgotten he had.

He leaned across the table, and traced his thumb along the white line. He licked his finger, tasting the flour and her.
Leaning across the table, he traced his thumb along the white line and licked his finger, tasting the flour and her.


I hope these helped. Be sure and check out the previous posts also for more detailed information.


Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. You can read more of Sandra's posts here.









107 comments :

  1. Terrific examples, Sandra. I still have to comb my manuscripts to be sure I am showing more than telling. Janet has reviewed my pages before and that girl can find them!!!! Red pen city!

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    1. I know. Its so much easier to see them in other people's writing. It always amazes me after all these years that I still do that. LOL

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  2. I hope I got the concept Sandra! I'll share a line or three from the book I just got done reading "Apple Orchard Bride" by Jessica Keller.

    His eyes raked over her face, memorizing her, and the muscle in his jaw ticked.

    He reached over, took her hand and laced their fingers together. And she didn't pull away.

    Jenna drew her cardigan tighter around herself, crossed her arms and shoved her fists into her armpits as she pressed farther into the darkness.

    And just like that, as if they were teenagers sneaking off like the old days, they laughed and started running hand in hand into the orchard.

    There's many more examples and I just love Jessica's books! I really can picture in my mind exactly how these characters look when they do what she has described them as doing! I think part of great writing is being able to paint pictures in the reader's mind :-) Which, I'm sure, for authors can be challenging at times!

    Thanks for the insightful post. Please toss my name in the hat for a Seeker ebook of choice :-)

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    1. Great examples Trixi. And not only could you picture the character, you get an idea what he or she is feeling. Jenna sounds like she is afraid or nervous. But the author didn't tell it. She showed it with Jenna's action. Thanks Trixi.

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    2. HA....You're right, I never thought about that Sandra ! Feeling what the characters do when an author shows through their actions. Engaging the reader in more than one sense at a time. You writers are SO clever!! :-) That's why I love y'all so much!

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  3. Fun!! This used to be intimidating for me, but now I look forward to working through these parts of my story. It's when I feel like the story goes from just ok to vivid and exciting! I also let myself "tell" as much as I need to while I dump out the first draft--just to get the ideas out without any pressure. Then once the story is all there, I can go back and "polish" it into showing :)

    My example:

    Pulling herself to a crouch, she noticed how thick the sand felt under her feet and how unevenly the dunes crested like waves between the ship and the town.

    Became...

    Her feet sunk deep into the thick sand. She ran her fingers through the fine grains and looked out across the desert. It piled into massive dunes, cresting like uneven waves for miles between the ship and the city.

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    1. Excellent point Megan. The first draft can be telling as long as you find those telling words and change them. You don't want to interrupt the creative process with details. smile Great example. You really picture the dunes.

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    2. Hi Magen:

      Your before example was really good:

      "Pulling herself to a crouch, she noticed how thick the sand felt under her feet and how unevenly the dunes crested like waves between the ship and the town."

      When I read 'pulling' I could feel my biceps tightening and when 'the thick sand was felt under her feet' my toes crunched downward, and when 'the dunes cresting like waves' I began to feel a little seasick. (And I know very well what this feels like!) Since the text involved my senses, I liked this writing. I'd want to read more if this was a blurb on the back of a book. Just saying.

      Vince

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  4. Hi Sandra:

    I like these examples but I would also like to read some examples of how well you show southwest landscapes. Especially when you show them using all five senses! Now that would be a signature Leesmith post to look forward to in the future. Hint.

    Emote, show, tell.


    Telling

    She was so mad she glared at her boss who was sitting behind his huge desk. She spun around on her heels and left the room in an obvious angry rage.

    Emoting, showing

    Her eyes bore holes thru her boss who was almost hidden behind his pretentious desk. Her fists were clamped so tight by now that her knuckles had already turned white. Without a word she backed out of the office never taking her eyes off the squirming little worm like he was a coward who was likely to shoot her in the back. She turned away only when her butt hit a wall. She slammed the door so hard a picture fell off the wall sounding more like wind chimes than a respectable crash. She was smiling by the time she reached the elevator door.

    Showing almost always takes more words! Nothing is free. : )

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    1. Yes, Vince showing can use more words, but we definitely knew how she felt about her boss. chuckle. And thanks for the idea to show the setting descriptions as well. ONe of those wip's is set in the Sedona area. sigh. Next time.

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  5. Wonderful post! I want to say by George I think I've got it. I'm glad I saw you say it was easier to see in others' writings. As an editor I can catch stuff when I'm working for other people that I don't see in my own. My mind knows what I mean and sees it whether it's there or not lol. Thanks for teaching this!

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    1. HI Sally, Yes, I think you're right. We know in our own mind what we mean so we think it is there on the paper. That is why it is essential to have critiques of your work before you put it out there. Thanks for joining us. Happy writing.

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  6. Thanks for sharing these great examples, Sandra!

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  7. I tell a lot more in my first draft... and then I tweak.

    But I'm the weird one who doesn't mind well-done "telling". I love James Michener and Herman Wouk books, and there's no small amount of telling there... but it's wound in such a way that I don't mind it, and judging from their sales and status, other folks didn't either.

    Now romance and category can be different, I know... but I still like to weave a hint of poetry into my work, and generally the editors have gone with it as long as I don't wax too long...

    I also love the one word "showing", depending on point of view.

    Moron.

    Jacqui made the assessment quickly. She might re-think it later, but judging from his bigger/stronger/mightier attitude... she figured she was spot on.

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    1. Hi Ruthy, I so agree with you about enjoying the poetic "purple prose" on occasion. I have a lot of it in my earlier writing when it was more common, and I get great reviews. So it can work. But like you said, keep it low key.

      Personally i think your characters have so much personality, you can get away with some telling because we see that character so clearly. smile

      Happy writing.

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    2. You are kind because I know I run verbose... but I do love my poetic leanings, Sandra... And you know I wasn't calling you a moron, right? I should have made it BOLD!!!! I'm looking at it now thinking I should have had coffee before posting, LOL! And now, back to getting another 1K on the book done...

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    3. Ha ha Ruthy, of course I knew you weren't calling me a moron. I was thinking it was part of the example you gave us. Your character thought Moron and then went on with her thoughts.

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  8. Examples have always made things click for me. Great post, Sandra!

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  9. Great examples, SANDRA! I really like your subtle changes that made a difference!

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  10. Thanks Glynna, You are always great at showing. I can so picture your characters in their small Arizona towns. Happy Writing.

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  11. Good post, SANDRA and so true. You're right that readers are becoming more discerning, because writers are becoming better writers. I need to think about this, back later.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Thanks Kathy, Readers are not only discerning, but they also are busy and want the action now. LOL I think all the video/television/movie world influences that also. By the way, taking a screenwriting class really does help with this issue.

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  12. Hey, Sandra -- great post, my friend! And I don't care how long a person has been writing or how many books they've had published -- show, not tell is a lesson that always bears refreshing!

    I had a paid critique done at my very first ACFW (then ACRW) conference many years ago, and the first two things the author nailed me on were head-hopping and, you guessed it--show, not tell! So this is one those basic mistakes that all writers make, hopefully more in the beginning than later in their careers. But I will admit that I have caught it in my own writing more times than I can count, which kind of worries me about all the times I HAVEN'T caught it ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Hi Julie, What memories you are bringing up. Hard to believe how long ago when ACRW first started. And our first critiques. Oh my. But at least we have come a long way, baby. smile Happy writing.

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  13. Great examples, Sandra! Sometimes the differences are so subtle that I have to read them over to see what you've done. :) Nice job!

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    1. Hi Missy, Yes, we can catch the obvious one. Like the verb to be. chuckle. But the sublte ones are more difficult and they do result in better writing. Thanks and happy writing.

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  14. Great job, Sandra. You wrote a very helpful article :)

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Thank you Phyllis, I'm glad this helped. Blessings to you also. Happy writing.

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  15. A "picture" is worth a thousand words, and your examples are just that, Sandra!

    On the topic of purple prose, there's a writerly quote making the rounds that goes something like, "If it sounds like writing, rewrite it!" We don't want readers so distracted by fancy turns of phrases that they're pulled out of the story.

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    1. That's funny, Myra. And a great quote. I guess that makes sense. Thanks for sharing.
      Happy writing. And tweeting. I love all the tweets you do for us. Yay Myra.

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  16. I am printing this off. the craft book I am currently reading is Understanding Show don't Tell. I can see it when some one is critiquing what I wrote but to see it myself, I am still struggling. I do want to conquer it.

    I hope everyone has a great day. I need to catch up on thank you notes and correspondence before I go to my watercolor class.

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    1. Sounds like a great craft book Wilani. I love to read the writing craft books. Hopefully they rub off. LOL

      Your watercolor class sounds fun. Its always wise to have a recreational activity. Happy writing. And watercoloring.

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  17. Sandra, I am a visual person. I enjoy being immersed in a great story where I experience the sights and sounds.

    Have a wonderful day!

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    1. Hi Caryl, I think many of us are visual and that is why we love the showing instead of telling.
      Happy writing.

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  18. For everything there is a reason, a time to tell a time to show...

    Telling is a great way to move the story forward without 'showing' passages that the reader would likely skip over anyway.

    This type of telling is very helpful in deep POV where the reader is only aware of what the POV character can directly experience.

    For example:

    They arrived at the airport 45 minutes later.

    The above example of telling is often used in deep POV so the author does not have to show what was going on in the POV character's head during that drive. Of course, this is 'narrator intrusion' -- the antithesis of deep pov where there is no narrator between the reader and the pov character. However, as a reader of deep POV I find such intrusions to be a welcome reprieve from being trapped inside a character's head for a whole book. : )

    I consider writing rules to be more rules of thumb than commandments written in stone.

    I'm with Ruth on this. Show when showing is better and tell when telling is better...but at least understand the difference.

    Vince

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    1. You make a good point, Vince. Sometimes you really do need to tell. But the main point of this post is to help those writers see the difference. If you don't understand the difference, it will be difficult to know when to show and when to tell.

      And of course, anything I say is my humble opinion and take on things which doesn't mean any of this is set in stone. We all have different tastes and needs. Its just in recent writing, there has been a trend toward more action and less of the flowery writing. Many do enjoy the poetic writing so I'm not saying to get rid of it completely. Its the author's blending of the two which gives them their own particular voice that we can love.

      Thanks for your input. Always fun to hear from you.

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    2. Yes!
      Be true to your voice and your voice will be a siren to you true fans.

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    3. ooooh Vince, You are waxing poetic. Love it.

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    4. Myra: Please tell the GQ that I just got an "English Grammar Boot camp" College course given by Anne Curzan a professor at Michigan University. I hope to make better posts in the future. Every GQ post shows me how much more I need to learn. I hope I show some improvement on her next visit. That's another kind of showing. : )

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    5. Hi Vince, It might be morning before Grammar Queen seens this. We'll be sure she is informed. smile

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    6. LOL, Vince, I will let GQ know. She will be so pleased!

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  19. Your examples really "showed" the difference between showing and telling! Thanks for the tutorial!

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    1. Just trying to be helpful. smile
      Happy writing Jan.

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  20. Great blog post, Sandra! Grabbing a cup of coffee and reading the comments...then back to work!

    My deadline looms!

    Hugs to all!

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    1. Best wishes on your deadline Debby. Enjoy that coffee and happy writing. Hugs

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  21. SANDRA, thanks for posting on Show don't Tell! Years ago an agent I wanted requested a couple of my stories. Though she was complimentary in some areas, she passed because I did too much telling. When I see "felt" I know I'm telling and need to revise to show. Showing isn't always necessary as Vince pointed out, but showing evokes more emotion, more action. Showing is easier and takes more time than telling, the reason I think we writers fall into the trap.

    Janet

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    1. Is that rejection what inspired you to write your post on Show Don't Tell? Great post.

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    2. Thanks! I'm not sure. I usually write posts about things I have or still struggle with. Head knowledge doesn't always come out through the fingertips. :-)

      Janet

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    3. Bingo. I ALWAYS. ALWAYS write posts about my problem writing issues. It's therapy in a blog an cheaper than paying someone to fix my writing problems.

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    4. Tina: You are right on. I've long heard that the best way to learn something is to teach it. I found that to be true but also true is the fact teaching is one hard way to learn -- you can daydream or look like you're paying attention!

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    5. They say if you want to learn something to teach it. I was teaching some 3.0's pickleball today and guess what? My skill in the area I was teaching jumped up a notch. Yep, teach what you want to learn. Now I must say I taught math and I'm still terrible at it. Maybe its because I taught kindergarten. ha ha

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    6. Hi Sandra: Okay, I don't know what 3.0's are unless they are "B" students.

      Vince

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    7. Like tennis, you are rated by your skills. You are rated from 1.0 (a beginner) to 5.0 which is expert player. Very few of those btw. I'm a strong 3.5 player. So I mentor the level below me which is a 3.0. The only difference between a 3.5 and 5.0 is the execution. We all make the same mistakes. The higher levels just make them less often. LOL

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  22. Oops, I misspoke. I should've said: Showing is more difficult and takes more time than telling, the reason I think we writers fall into the trap.

    Janet

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    1. Thanks for clarifying. And Janet, you wrote a post on Show Don't Tell back in 2009 I (I think) It definitely is something we have been working on for a long time. smile

      Happy writing.

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    2. SANDRA, so true! I can know something but not see it in my own writing.

      Janet

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    3. Hi Janet:

      I think it is amazing that when you wrote: "Head knowledge doesn't always come out through the fingertips. :-)" you had already established the proof of this in you prior statement about showing taking less words. That's the best self-verifying statement since I heard a philosophy student in the 101 class say to the teacher, "I don't know anything about Pluto or Aristotle." Besides, sometimes showing can take less words.

      A person is asked what happened?

      Telling: "There was a fire and the flames made it to the propane tanks and then the whole building exploded into a million pieces."

      Showing: "Ka-poom"!!!

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  23. Good morning, Seekerville!
    YES. My editor sends me back a lot of "show" comments. I've really been working on it but it seems to be one of those things that really needs a second set of eyes to correct.

    Here's an example from my Christmas novella:
    BEFORE
    He rounded the corner and entered the hall to the throne room, brushing past a group of scribes .
    He rounded the corner and entered the hall that led to the throne room, brushing past a group of scribes as he went.

    AFTER:
    He rounded the corner and entered the hall adjoining the throne room. A group of scribes stood in his way.
    “You go in first. You’re the one who has served the king the longest.”
    “He threw us out moments ago. Now he wants us back?”
    Absalom rolled his eyes and brushed past them.

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing for the critique.

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  24. Great example Amber. You did a good job and brought so much more meaning to the piece. Yes, of course you are entered into the drawing.
    Happy writing.

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  25. Wow, Sandra. I can really see the differences in your examples! Sometimes I learn best by reading how others have made changes. :) Thanks so much for sharing such great information (and examples!) on showing instead of telling.

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    1. You're welcome Jeanne. I found it easier to see the difference also. Made more sense but then I'm a visual learner. smile
      Happy writing.

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  26. Hi Sandra
    Thanks for the examples. I gain understanding so much better when there are examples to see. Boy, those differences are pretty subtle. I guess I've grown enough to be able to see them (thanks Seekerville!)

    Here's my example:
    BEFORE:
    She rocked in her seat and the shudder from the death rattle of her vehicle yanked the steering wheel from her hands. Ruth felt the slide across the iced pavement through feet embedded into the floorboards. She’d lost control. Ruth closed her eyes, expecting the worst.

    AFTER
    She rocked in her seat and the shudder from the death rattle of her vehicle yanked the steering wheel from her hands. She embedded her feet into the floorboards, feeling the slide across the iced pavement.

    No control. Ruth closed her eyes. I'm dead girl driving.

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    1. Great example Deb. You are right into it in the second version. That version brings the reader into the experience. Thanks for sharing and yes, you have grown. smile

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  27. Great post, Sandra - - thank you SO much! Exactly what I need right now as I complete my rough (and I do mean rough, LOL) draft of my WIP - - just last night I was thinking that I've been doing too much telling rather than showing in my story. So, thanks for these examples and for sharing your wisdom with us! Blessings on the rest of your week (yikes! January is flying by!).
    Hugs (and a warm peach cobbler), Patti Jo :)

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    1. You made my afternoon Patti Jo with that peach cobbler. I'm assuming you froze peaches to have for winter cobbler. Yum. It is perfect with a tall glass of iced coffee.

      I'm glad my samples helped. Be sure and look for words like to be, could, would, felt, etc. Those are big clues you are telling.

      Best wishes on your revisions. Happy writing.

      (I'm talking with my mouth full of cobbler) Oh my goodness. I'm in heaven. sigh

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  28. So, you have: He took a deep breath as he gazed down at her. Would you change it to: Taking a deep breath he gazed down at her? It makes sense until I go looking. Would you change all instances of telling someone doing something to someone doing the action?

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    1. You could change that Sally. It sounds good. But remember what Ruthy and Vince said above. You don't always need to change the telling. Sometimes, it is easier and more efficient to tell and let the showing happen at a more opportune moment.

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  29. Why is it so easy to recognize telling in someone else's writing -- and so easy to overlook in my own? :-) Although, after a lot of writing -- and reading Seeker posts -- I'm a tad better at spotting telling than I was a few years ago. There's hope.

    Thanks for the examples, Sandra!

    Nancy C

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    1. Hi Nancy, Yes, hope is key. smile And it really is easier to see the telling in other people's writing. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that you see the action in your head. So you think it is on paper.

      And what great news that you are improving. Yay. Keep up the good work. Happy writing.

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  30. Now doing a search and destroy to get rid of all my "as" sentences. Oh, my this does not bode well. LOL. Thanks, Sandra.

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    1. Tina, you are too funny. I'm sure you don't have as many as you think.

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  31. Thanks for sharing these great examples. I'm sure that I will remember these points when I am reading.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Connie, When reading, I try not to think about all the skills as then I'm not getting into the story. But if its really obvious, then I do see it. Hope you enjoy your reading. It sure is good weather for sitting all cuddled up and reading these days.

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  32. This is the opening paragraph for a rewriting of my first book I wrote:

    Gleanna Templeton hooked up a patient to the monitors. He seemed to be really out of it. All of a sudden he was like a crazed man. He punched her. What just happened. I need to get away. Gleanna tried to move away from him, but not before he grabbed her wrist with an almost super human strength. Out of nowhere he held a knife in his other hand. Before she could scream, he plunged the knife towards her heart; but she was able to move, even in his tight grip, so that he plunged it into her arm. He raised the knife to stab again.

    Is this showing or is it still too telling?

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    1. Hi Wilani, This has a lot of suspense and action. What would happen if you took all the verbs "to be" out and used another verb? Try it and see what happens. Then you will know the answer to your question.

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    2. You have both. In suspense you want to keep it concise and to the point. That keeps the suspense up. Your sentence "He punched her." is showing.

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  33. Well I thought I posted my comment, but now I don't see it! Oh well, here we go again:

    I really appreciated your examples Sandra! That's always so helpful to me :)

    Here's my before and after:

    Kayla watched as the two men disappeared around the corner that would lead them back stage of the auditorium. Now that she was left alone, she felt astonishment break over her like a wave, past the barriers she’d erected while in his presence. Cooper Thomas. How on earth had that happened?

    After:
    The two men disappeared around the corner, leaving her alone in the empty hall. Kayla collapsed against the cold grit of the cinderblock wall. It stood firm, but the walls in her heart tumbled to the ground now that the "danger" had passed. Cooper Thomas. Out of all the people in the world...

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    1. You really got the ideal Kelsey. Doesn't your second version read better to you? You took out the "to be" verbs and put in action verbs. She felt and the word like also end up telling instead of showing. Those are good words to look for.

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    2. Hey, thank you for posting and responding. I love the interactive posts like this :) Thanks!

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    3. We enjoy them also. It means a lot to know that all our work helps someone. That is how we learned so we love giving back. Keep up the great work.

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  34. Thank you for your post.....and the snickerdoodles and coffee! The "show don't tell" concept is an area I'm really concentrating on. Some days I think I've almost got it....then I sink back down into confusion. Your examples really help. I'll be scrutinizing them and studying the past posts so the ideas get fixed in my writer brain. Thank you, Sandra!

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    1. Hi Sherida, My earlier posts had examples of the more obvious telling words we use. This post has more subtle versions. I'm glad you went back and looked at them. Happy writing and best wishes with your revisions.

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  35. Having trouble getting this to "appear"...lol....interesting post, Sandra. Will re-read when I am rested...tired after a long day to a classmates lunch. Count me in for the E book of choice. Thanks!!

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    1. You bet, Jackie. Glad you had a productive day.

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  36. Show, don't tell! My wip had this sentence: She was unaware of her beauty...better said, She fingered her hair from her face, her eyes sparkling" I am new at this as I love to write in the passive voice with many conjunctions and unwieldy phrases that extend over many words as this sentence would indicate. (tongue in cheek.) I like your approach, Sandra, of going line by line and "translating." BTW, my book from Missy Tippens, "The Story within Plot Guide." by Alicia Rasley has come. What a great Seekerville prize. I am also reading Sandra Leesmith's books, another prize. Thank you, ladies! If my name is drawn, please give another blogger my prize.

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    1. Thank you Olivia. What a blessing you are to let us know you are enjoying your prizes. It means a lot to us.

      Happy reading and writing.

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  37. Hmmm, I answered a question and have no idea where it went. I guess others are having the same problem. It helps to go back and check to be sure your answer posted. Or hit refresh. I'm going to do that and see what happens.

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  38. Helpful post, Sandra. Thank you!

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    1. Glad they were of help J. I appreciate when someone lets me know it actually did help.
      Happy writing.

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  40. Sandra, marvelous examples! I wasn't born in Missouri, but I feel like I belong in the Show Me State! Always helps to "see" what you are talking about! Thanks.

    Great examples in the comments also.

    Since I'm entering a few contests this year, I'll be scouring my pages looking for words that tell rather than show! (And, I'll fix 'em!)

    Thanks again!

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    1. Hi Kathryn, I didn't know Missouri was the "show me state". How cool is that? I'm glad this post helped. Best wishes on your contests. Yay contests. Happy writing.

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  41. Wow the differences between the showing versus the telling in the examples you gave are so minimal. I am going to have to look through my WIPs with the eye of a hawk!

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    1. Hi Nicky, Yes, these examples were very subtle. But if you read my older posts in the archives, you will see more obvious examples. Looking for telling words can be fun. Like putting together a puzzle. Have fun.

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  42. Sandra thank you for the link. I loved seeing the differences you shared here as well. Showing and not telling really does bring so much more life to a story.

    This was a great reminder to remember that a reader is not in your head and does not see what you see. We have to get that vision across.

    Loved the links too. Thanks!

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    1. HI Kelly, Glad the links were helpful. I think seeing examples helps make it more understandable. Happy writing.

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  43. Wonderful post, Sandra. I loved how subtle the changes were in the examples you gave. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thanks Rhonda. My earlier posts had the more obvious examples of showing instead of telling.
      Happy writing.

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  44. Hi Sandra, thanks for the examples, very good. I'm still editing my overly long book re-writing most of it in order to better show the action. Good news is my word count is compressing by 30%!

    Take care and Happy New Year !

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    1. Wonderful news Mark. Those first books do tend to have enormous amounts of telling. After all it is your first story and you're inclined to tell it. Hang in there. You sound like you're getting the hang of it. Happy writing.

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  45. Its late and I hear my pillow screaming my name. LOL It was great spending the day with all of you. Be sure and check out the Weekend Edition for winners. I'll check in the morning for any late commenters.

    Happy writing all of you and be sure and show don't tell your story.

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