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Friday, June 20, 2014

Guest Blog: Denyse Bridger: Time for Show and Tell Talk...



I was originally going to talk about marketing, but along the way I ended up with a better idea. Most of us have long heard about the show and tell rule when writing, to the point that even the average reader knows this concept and what it means. It seems simple enough, but is it really that straightforward? I’ve learned recently it’s anything but simple! I wonder how many other authors have discovered the same thing once they begin to employ this powerful crafting concept?

Each of learns in different ways, and what is the light-bulb moment for one person is not going to help someone else in the least. The same applies with this writing technique. I have an incredible editor, and she has patiently worked with me for weeks on end to help me not only understand but to learn to employ new writing skills. In doing so, I’ve read many guides and craft books over the past couple of years, and for this elusive but crucial aspect of how to make a story/novel come to life, I discovered there were three books that were exceedingly helpful. They are:

Show or Tell? A Powerful Lesson on a Crucial Writing Skill
This book is a quick read but is packed with useful information, in a very user friendly presentation.

The Busy Writer's Tips on Writing Romance
This is probably the BEST book I’ve ever read on basic understanding of what makes a romance work come to life and be a compelling story. Highly recommend this one! It’s short but so worth it.

Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction (Busy Writer's Guides)
This is the BEST book I’ve ever read for learning this elusive technique. The author also offers worksheets via her website which are invaluable and printed out enable you to reference them as needed.

We call ourselves storytellers, and once upon a time there were bards and other wonderfully poetic names for writers. I’ve heard Wordsmith, word crafter, etc., and they’re all very cool. But we are mostly word painters, aren’t we? If we do our job correctly, our words paint pictures inside a reader’s mind, bring to life worlds and people who exist through the emotion, surroundings, and reactions of our characters. So, apart from the sense of living in the moment with our characters, we also have to make them accessible and real for readers, too–make them care, or there’s not much point to them reading, and they’ll toss the book aside in favour of the next story that catches their attention and holds it.

I often wonder what means the most to readers? A character that is so well defined and real they feel like a new friend to the reader once the book is over–or is it setting? Circumstance? Some combination of all of these elements? I think we can safely say the days of long descriptive pages of lyrical imagery are pretty much over in popular fiction, we live in a different age, and the pace alone makes readers’ time more valuable to them. In response, they want to get into the heart of a story fast, and live it to the max while they’re there. So, the story has to hook them fast, then hold tight. Like everything else about this business, it’s a never-ending, ever-changing evolution. Sometimes I miss all those lovely words, but I also love the challenge of learning to make a better story, so it’s a fair exchange.

I’ve recently started a wonderful reference page on Facebook for authors, and a lot of readers are enjoying it to as it helps them understand the process of books and publishing a little more. If anyone is interested, it can be found here, and I post to it daily for the most part: http://www.facebook.com/WritersNewsstand

So, what does make a book live and breathe for you, readers? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win an Audio version of my latest, sexy release. Here’s a very quick peek at it:

1-900-SURPRISE!
Short, sexy contemporary with edge!
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BLURB:
When her lover, Martin Fowler is called away to Washington and she can't go with him, Daniella LeBeaux is restless and edgy. Martin's older, worldly, and has a reputation that would make most women think twice about trusting him. Dani loves him, and trust is not what's making her anxious and edgy - lust and loneliness are combining with a little too much to drink. When the phone rings, and it's Martin, delayed again, he teaches her a new way to make love long-distance style.... but who's watching Dani? And is Martin really ready for the revenge his actions incite?

For an exclusive excerpt, visit me here:

BIO: 
Canadian born and bred, and a lifelong dreamer, I began writing at an early age and can’t recall a time when I wasn’t creating in some artistic form. My life has had several on-going love affairs that shape much of what I write, the American West, Victorian England, cowboys, a passion for pirates, Greek Gods, and Ancient Egypt. The other endless love affairs in my life are Romania and Italia, and all their magic, beauty, and dazzling culture. A visit to my website will show the diversity of what is currently available, and the mixing of genres and styles that will be employed in many current, and up-coming projects as well.

12 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

Awesome post, Denyse.

When I first started writing, I found that parts of my stories always seemed more alive than the others. Took me awhile to realize that I was showing in those areas, rather than telling.

It's all part of the mechanics now for me. But a lesson well learned.

Denysé Bridger said...

Hi, Tina. I agree, it's a learned technique, but one that makes ALL the difference to how effective a story is to readers. I've been working on this a lot recently, and have a much better understanding of why it's so important. My other major problem was POV shifting, thought it was much easier to fix than this area. *lol*

Thanks for stopping to say hello.
Hugs,
Denyse

Miriam Newman said...

I think showing vs. telling, along with POV, is one of the hardest parts of the craft. There's a natural tendency when you're talking to someone to spell out background. Cutting that out of writing is a bit like self imposed muzzling!

Rose Anderson said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Denyse. Back in the day those POV shifts were all over the place. I think that's why they reach up and grab us from time to time. We read those books and just got used to it. If the story is showing instead of telling, the reader knows who's talking even with a little head-hopping.

Thanks for the book tips and for joining us today, best luck. :)

Denysé Bridger said...

Miriam, so true. It's hard to retrain your brain to stop telling the story, and making certain the person hearing/reading the story knows everything they need to know for things to make sense. Showing, done well, can make a work come to life, but that "need" tell, to just make sure, is always there. I really did find POV easier to overcome. LOL Once you stop being the director and start being one of the actors on the stage, it's a whole lot easier!!

Thanks for coming by. Hugs, D

Denysé Bridger said...

Rose, I don't think people always wrote shifting POV, and even now it's always more noticeable to us because we fight against it as writers. Live and learn, always.

Thanks, and Cheers!
D

jean hart stewart said...

Showing instead of telling is still hard for me, even after thirty some books. I still have to go back and check every ms.

Judy Baker said...

Thanks for the book references - I'll check them out. I'm always reminding myself to show and not tell - it isn't easy.

Melissa Keir said...

I think showing vs telling is the hardest part. We all have a natural talent for showing but get caught in our head with the telling since those are the images we see in our mind's eye. The trick is to get it down on the page. :)

Shared!

vicki batman said...

I read somewhere if you think or say or do something, put down how that makes you feel.

Recently, I cleaned my bookshelves and picked up very old romances. I read one and although the descriptions seem to be a bit overdone, the author did have a way of writing this uniquely. I am hoping I extrapolate something thru osmosis and enhance my work.

Sandy said...

Thanks for a great post, Denyse. I think watching the characters in movies and on television helps with showing the action and reactions. You still have to work at it. Smile!

Denysé Bridger said...

Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments. I think we tend to get so focused on the words sometimes we forget to "feel" what we're attempting to convey, so we instead tell our readers what they should be feeling, instead of allowing them to feel it themselves through our characters' actions. It's a balancing act, to be sure.

The books I mentioned have been exceptionally helpful in a sea of many, so if you happen to check any of them out, I think you'll find them very worth the investment. Marcy Kennedy has a set of 4 that are only $9 total, and they're invaluable, in my opinion.

Sandy, I agree, movies and television can certainly help you visualize, but then you have to train your brain to narrow that focus to one POV, which was my earlier battle - don't be the director, pick a single "voice" on the stage and be that person's eyes and sense...

Y'know, for a craft that has no rules - and everyone agrees on that one to some extent - there are certainly a lot of rules to remember, aren't there? *lol*

Cheers, everyone - and thanks again! Will grab a winner on Monday for the audio book.

Have a great weekend.
Denyse

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