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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Showing Emotion On the Page by Janice Seagraves

Showing Emotion on the page 
 (Without it being Telly) 
By Janice Seagraves 

One of the hardest lessons in writing is to show emotion on the page without it being telly. You've all heard of Show and Don't Tell, but what does that really mean?

Simply put Telly is telling something that happened as if to a friend. Showing is taking your reader though the scene in such a way that they feel the emotion.

Here are a few examples:

Telly: She made him mad. He wanted to hit her.
Show: He fisted his hands and ground his teeth. His gut boiled. Grabbing a plate, he threw it against the wall. "That'll be your head next!"

Throwing something is a good way to show extreme anger, but be careful that your characters don't end up breaking all the dishes in the house. People who are angry also fist their hands, ground their teeth, breath noisily, and bare their teeth, crack knuckles, and their nails bite into their palms.

Telly: The doorknob turned. She was so scared she hid behind the couch. "Paw, won't find me here."
Show: The doorknob turned. Ice went through her middle. She hid behind the couch. "Paw, won't find me here."

You feel cold when you scared. It can knife through you, or fill your stomach with ice. A chill can go down your character's back. Also, someone's face turns ashen, trembling lips and chin, freezing, feeling rooted to the spot, tight shoulders, leg muscles tightening, getting ready to run, looking all around, especially behind, a shrill voice, or lowering the voice to a whisper.

Telly: She was so happy she could fly. "I have my dream job."
Show: She kept repeating the words over and over, you're hired. Her cheeks hurt from grinning so big and her stomach did a little flip. "I have my dream job."

Squealing, screaming, shouting, whooping and hollering can all show extreme happiness or elation. So can running a victory lap, dancing in place, laughing, and throwing something in the air.

Telly: He loved her very much and wanted to make love to her.
Show with an excerpt from Windswept Shores: He sat next to her, and leaned over, pressed his lips against hers, gradually deepening the kiss. Her scent filled his nose, a light perfume with her own personal aroma. His pulse raced, and his mind spiraled with thoughts of being inside of her. He burned to make love to her.

Janice Seagraves website: http://janiceseagraves,org/
Windswept Shores first time in Trade paperback:
Windswept Shores on the Kindle:


Tina Donahue said...

Excellent blog, Janice - it's SO hard to show emotion on the page. Sometimes there just doesn't seem to be enough words in the English language.

Melissa Keir said...

Love it Janice! Great post!

Brenna Chase said...

Great post, Janice! I have to really work at showing emotion on the page.

jean hart stewart said...

Great blog. Telling is my downfall. Such good examples of how not to do so!!!! Thanks.

Elaine Violette said...

Enjoyed your blog and great examples!

Rachel Moore said...

Excellent examples, thanks for sharing.

Connie Bretes

Janice Seagraves said...

Hi Tina, Thank you. :)

Hi Melissa, Thank you. :)

Hi Brenna, Thank you. I have to too. I think most authors do.

Hi Jean, Thank you. A friend asked me to do this one.

Hi Elaine, Thank you. :)

Hi Rachel, Thank you. :)


Gemma Juliana said...

Hi Janice, Thanks for this reminder about not telling. It's so easy to fall into the telling trap. When I just need to get the story written, my first draft will often be very telly. Then on draft 2 I take more time to show... wonderful blog post!

Rose Gorham said...

Great blog, Janice. I think showing emotion in a story makes it pop! I tend to forget that sometimes. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post Janice. :)Showing without over describing is difficult. :)

Janice Seagraves said...

Hi Gemma, It's okay to write a messy first draft full of telly part. You just have to remember when you go through revision to change those party to show the emotions.

Hi Rose, Indeed it does pop and pulls the reader in more. Telling keeps the reader at arms length.

Hi Kitty, It can be, but its well worth the effort.


Edie Hart said...

Fantastic post!!

Thank you so much for sharing. : )

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