Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday's Mixed Ink Show off

I've really, really been looking forward to this week! I'm so happy to see YOU here!

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This week is all about being a show off. I know we've all heard that phrase, "Stop being a show off!" right? Well, in writing, you've got to be a show off. Yes, there are times when tell is better or more appropriate, but I've heard it over and over again, SHOW, DON"T TELL.

I'll be honest. At first, I just didn't want to listen. After all, writing a story was TELLING a story and how do you tell a story if you don't "tell" huh? Even after I studied article after article and book after book about what showing is, I still don't have it completely down, but I'm working on it.

After receiving FIVE different critiques, with two of them from agents, and all of them saying "You have too much telling in your writing" I decided it was time to learn what that meant:)

So, I'm hosting a SHOW OFF workshop and guess what, guys? The lovely and talented

Carrie Pestritto of the Prospect Agency

will be giving a one page critique to the writer who is the biggest show off! That's right! It's time to pull out a 250 word selection from your manuscript and post it in the comments today and tomorrow. On Friday, I'll ask you to post your new, revised selection that best shows the places you have removed telling and replaced it with showing.

Carries has graciously agreed to critique the most improved!!

So, lets' get started, shall we?

First class: Show off your details

What does that mean? Let she show by example:

The little boy was sleepy.

That sentence is telling. It simply says a boring detail that doesn't excite me or give any details. At all. So, let me add some detail and see what happens.

The blue-eyed toddler boy wore a helmet of silver and traces of sticky candy circled his mouth. His dress up army outfit fell off his shoulders and the pants leg wrinkled under his feet and he looked so tired. He was strong-willed and I knew he would rather play army man then take a nap. It would be a struggle.

This version has some details, but how are they relevant to the story? They are nice, but they don't add to the story. They're random and out of place. Plus, there's still some telling going on. Let's try again...

His tired eyes squinted into red-rimmed cracks. He pushed his army helmet down over his brows, his eyes barely showing from the over-sized hat. One hand clinched a half eaten candy bar, the other waved a plastic pistol. "You mean enemy! I'll never surrender to a nap!"

Now, what does this selection show you? There's a tired little boy who doesn't want to sleep, but he is stubborn! But writing this, this way, I leave a few options for you, the reader. You may have a completely different thought. You may think, " Man, that boy needs a spanking!" or maybe "He's so creative, I hope he never loses his great imagination!"

By showing off, I left some things open for the reader to decide. I built on the details in an engaging way, and I kept it interesting rather than boring!

Now, beautiful guys and dolls, if you want to participate in the workshop, feel free to comment and leave your sample. At the end of the week, you'll be given the chance to show off you improvements and win a critique from Carrie!


  1. It's a difficult concept to grasp at first. Jessica Bell's book had some great examples, which helped me.

    1. I will definitely check that book out! Thanks for mentioning it!

  2. Working on something, and you know I'm horrible about those bloody telling paragraphs! :) Here we go, from a new MS, Lucky Number Six:

    In the back of her head, Tiffany was very happy the family couldn’t see her current predicament. Running in her new three inch heel Manolo Blahniks, after a stupid duck. A hank of her brunette hair fell from its customary French braid and she tasted the Aussie Freeze.
    “Oh, you idiotic bird! I’m going to use you to make a Turducken!” she yelled, even as she cringed. The asinine animal was navigating early morning New Orleans’ traffic. Feathers flew, a few squawks, flapping wings and it actually made it to the other side without becoming the latest roadkill for someone’s dinner.
    She crossed carefully, watching the cars and keeping the feathered fiend in her peripheral. He’d made it to the open green before the Mississippi River. With a quick prayer, she hopped on one foot at a time to slip off the expensive shoes and ran after the rapidly disappearing duck. Grateful he couldn’t fly, and she could run faster than he could waddle, she charged over the hill. In a move her high school diving coach would have been proud of, she leaped at the duck, grabbing the quaking animal, and sliding ten feet in the pantsuit from Barney’s of New York.
    Holding the duck like a football, she glanced at her pantsuit, trying not to cry. It was no surprise why the dry cleaner always smiled big whenever she arrived. It was going to cost a fortune to clean the mud and grass stains out.

  3. Here is an entry for my YA, currently in revsions:

    As Dad got up off the couch, Jessica interlocked her arm with his so possessively, I blinked. Oh, Jessica, what are you doing? Do you even know who he is? Do I know?

    I sprung to my feet and rushed to the dusty window. With solemnity, I watched Jessica’s car pull out of the graveled driveway. In surging excitement and fear, I waited ten minutes. As I approached his bedroom door, I kept imagining he’d pop out and shout “Caught you!”

    Flinching, I clicked on the lamp. All of his rooms were always darkly lit. They were extremely bare as well. He carried no furnishings and hardly any personal trinkets, while I tugged my Hello Kitty lamp and shadowboxes everywhere we went. He only carted around clothes, his bass guitar, and the safety deposit box.

    The key was one of those small, insignificant silver ones. The first time I spied it I was ten. His bedroom door was ajar. I saw him, standing by the dresser, stroking that little key. He murmured something harsh under his breath.

    He stuck the key in the box, and with a twist, opened it. I scurried away, knowing I shouldn’t have spied. Have I known all along that I wouldn’t like the contents of that box?

    Where had he grabbed that key from? Where did he hide it? Not a single box or organizer rested on any of the dresser countertops. I held my breath as I considered my next move--rummaging through his clothes.


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