Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday's WIP: Fanfiction & Showing, Not Telling

           Hey guys! It's Jess, and I'm here to talk about what I learned from writing fanfiction, specifically in the areas of showing and not telling. But before I do, I want to remind everyone that you can still post your 250 words or any question you have on today's post and tomorrow's! Then, on Friday, post your revised 250 words for a chance to win a first page critique from Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency! Are you the biggest SHOW OFF?

           Now, about fanfiction and this week's workshop... as my writing skills are always a work in progress.
            I know what you’re thinking. “No, not another fanfiction post!” But hear me out!
            I started writing fanfiction before I ever started writing anything original. Of course, back then, I didn’t know what fanfiction was or even what to do with it. Since then, I’ve alternated with writing original fiction and fanfiction for a single purpose: it helps me learn how to write better.
            “What!” you say. “How can playing with someone else’s characters, setting and basic plot structures make you a better writer? Why don’t you just write your own stuff?”
            Well, here’s why: you get feedback (for the most part) on your writing, and nothing else. When I write my seaQuest stories, my readers already love the characters, the submarine, and the basic relationships that are already set up. So when they comment and leave reviews, it is all about how well I can carry out an original plot and all of the intricacies involved with that. Additionally, they’ll comment on grammar as well as—and here is the tie-in to this week’s workshop—showing rather than telling.
            I remember the first story I posted to It was a first season seaQuest story. I got a review for it that said, “Great job! You really know how to show and not tell!” When I read that, I didn’t really know what they meant. I read and reread the story, figuring it was just the way I wrote something—and I was right.
            But then I made the transition back to writing my original fiction, and I realized that whatever I did in that fanfiction story, I wasn’t doing in my original work.
            Basically, I’d learned from writing fanfiction.
            Below is an excerpt from that story, and maybe you can see what that reviewer meant (because I honestly still always don’t!):

---              ---           ---           ---       ---         ---       ---          ---          ---           ---          ---            -

Lucas watched, but couldn't hear, the conversation that played out between his father and Captain Bridger. He'd hacked into the sub's security cameras fifteen minutes ago so that he could watch this precise moment play out. A small pit of regret was beginning to form in his stomach for not being there to welcome his father, but he ignored it as best he could.

He saw his father mouth what appeared to be a question about where Lucas was, followed by Bridger going off about something that ended in his father shaking his head.

So the Captain hadn't told him where his quarters were located after all. Lucas made a mental note to thank the Captain for it at a later date.

He shut his computer off and lay on his bed, looking up at the ceiling. "What am I doing?" he asked himself aloud.

"Sleeping?" The question came from the aquatube to Lucas's left. He turned his head to see his dolphin friend looking at him from the other side of the glass.

"No, Darwin, I'm not sleeping."

"Lucas okay?" Darwin asked.

"Not really," he answered. He took a deep breath to calm the frustration that was beginning to build up within him. It was aimed at himself, and didn't feel like it was going to go away anytime soon. "Darwin, do you think it's stupid of me for not going to see my father when he came on board?"

Darwin seemed to pause for a moment to think about it before answering him with a question. "Lucas mad at him?"

He laughed once, though it was one with a frustrated undertone. "Yes, Darwin, I'm mad at him."

"Don't be."

Lucas turned all the way onto his side when the dolphin said that. "Why not?" he countered. "He nearly abandoned me here, stuck me on the seaQuest because there was nowhere else to send me."
"Lucas hates seaQuest?"

"No! No, Darwin, I…" The frustration at his own feelings got the better of him, and Lucas stood up and paced quickly the small space between his door and bed. "I think I… hate him, Darwin. I don't know what else to feel but anger and like I was a complete disappointment to him despite doing everything he asked of me."

"But father is member of Lucas pod?"

Lucas stopped pacing and turned his attention once again to the dolphin. "Well, yeah. He's my father, a part of my family whether I like it or not."

"Can't hate member of own pod," Darwin told him. "Not possible."

Lucas grabbed his PAL, stuck it in his pocket, and reached for the door handle. Before leaving, he mumbled, "It is when you're human."

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I think showing and not telling is one of those skills that comes easiest when either you’re nothing directly thinking about it or when you’re doing it strictly during the revision/editing process. For me, whenever I directly try to do it, it never happens. Maybe I just need practice.

But that is what this workshop week is for, no?


  1. I think this is a weak area for me when I try to foray into fiction, so I appreciate all examples-- thanks for sharing!

  2. I try to remember this in the original draft, but usually have to hit it hard in edits. Even then, it's hard. I think the only way to get it is to practice and read example after example after example. Thanks for the help :)

    1. I love examples too. Some of my best improvements have been because I saw an example of what I was doing wrong:)

  3. I used to do fanfic before. Not much though :( And are unfinished MSs eligible for the critique? This is the first time I've heard of it and I want in! :D Thnk you!

    1. Yep! This is not a contest for submissions. Just help with show vs. telling and a one page critique from Carrie:)

  4. Oh darn it! I was hit hard with some projects and COMPLETELY forgot. Can you forgive me Talynn?!?! *hanging head in shame*

    1. I understand busy! Sometimes I feel like a puppy chasing her tail. :(

      I'm just sorry no one got a chance to get Carrie's critique. She's wonderful, plus she was so gracious to accept when I asked.


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