Show versus Tell

Hi everyone! Patty Smith Hall here, and today, we’re going to tackle one of the major building blocks of effective writing—Show vs Tell.

If you’ve been to a writing conference, had a critique partner or read books on craft, you’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘show, don’t tell.’ For those of you ‘newbies,’ let me explain.

First off, let’s look at the definition of these words;

The meaning of the word ‘tell’ is ‘communicating information, facts or news to someone in spoken or written words. Other words to describe it are informed, notify, apprise and advise.

newspaper-943004_192028129When I think of telling, I think of a newspaper article. For an article to be informative, it has to answer five questions—who, what, where, when and why. Most (with the exception of editorials) are very basic with little to no description. They’re looking at the situation from ten thousand feet above so they can’t give much detail or expression.

My first draft is a lot like that. I’m trying to get the story down, learning the who, what, where, when, why. During this time, I use words like angrily, solemnly, joyfully, hesitantly or phrases like she or he thought. While its okay to do this, it doesn’t draw your reader into the story or make them feel for your characters. It might look something like this:

‘Maggie stared pensively out the window as she took another sip of coffee.

That’s okay, but it doesn’t give readers a hint of why Maggie feels pensive. It doesn’t even reveal the setting. As a reader, would you finish a book like that or would you read on?

Now let’s look at the word ‘show.’ The definition of ‘show’ is ‘be, allow or cause to be visible; to display a quality, emotion or characteristic; a display or spectacle; a play or stage performance.

I like that last description. Here in the south, we don’t go to a movie. For us, it’s a show which is a fitting description. In a movie, you’re able to see the actor’s expressions, get a feel for the motivations behind their actions.

movie-918655_1920When I start editing my rough draft, I picture each scene as though it were a movie. I slow it down so that I can catch all the nuances of my character’s expressions and how they respond to each plot twist. Writing my story this way brings my readers deeper into the story world and gives my characters more layers which makes the reader care about them.

So how does this look? Let’s take pensive Maddie.

Maddie stared pensively out of the window as she took another sip of her coffee.

But if we look at this as we would a movie scene, this is what we might see:

She missed her mountains.

Maddie stared out the big picture window, drawn to the outline of the Davis Mountains silhouetted against the morning sky. She took another sip of Sally’s coffee, her latest bout of homesickness drowning out the hustle and bustle of the café.

Did the second paragraph draw you into the story? Did you feel for Maddie? That’s what showing rather than telling does. That doesn’t mean you never can use telling. If you want to show the passage of time, telling is a good way of doing that—you’re moving the story forward without going into details that aren’t important to the story. One example for my books is from my first one, Hearts in Flight. My heroine was a pilot who flew test flights during WWII. Only I never wrote about her actually flying a plane! Why? Because it was a romance, her flying wouldn’t have moved the story along.

Here’s a simple way to think of it: Say your husband or wife tells you ‘I’m going to be a better mate.’ That’s all well and good, but wouldn’t showing you with their actions their intentions be even better?

I hope I’ve helped you understand show vs tell a little bit more. Some good articles on the subject are:

Show, Don’t Tell; A Simple Guide for Writers by Jerry Jenkins

Showing Vs Telling in Your Writing by Writer’s Digest

Show Vs Tell by R. Michael Burns

Show Vs Tell: Examples by Camy Tang

Click to Tweet: When I start editing my rough draft, I picture each scene as though it were a movie. #writetip #amwriting @InspiredPrompt @pattywrites

Writing Prompt: Read a page of your WIP. Did you find problems with telling? How can you show the scene?

The Southern Belle Brides Collection

51jkgnu-g-l._sy346_Love as Sweet as Southern Iced Tea

Welcome to the Old South where hospitality is king and charm is queen. Can lasting love been found here amidst chaotic life challenges?

The Belle of the Congaree by Lauralee Bliss
Columbia, South Carolina—1866
Mason Bassinger reluctantly travels to post-war South Carolina seeking lands his carpetbagger brother can buy. Elisa Anderson barely survives after her family’s plantation was destroyed. She welcomes visits by the handsome and wealthy Mason who makes the cottage by the Congaree feel like a home. But when Mason’s true purpose is revealed, will her heart be broken by betrayal?

Thoroughbreds by Ramona Cecil
Lexington, Kentucky—1918
A family tragedy reunites Ella Jamison with her childhood tormentor, igniting surprisingly different sparks. Clay Garrett questions why God would allow him to fall in love with the one woman least likely to return his affections. But when love blooms against all odds, old secrets threaten to destroy it and, in the process, tear an entire family apart.

The Marmalade Belle by Dianne Christner
Ocala, Florida—1893
A decade-old note draws Maribelle Sinclair into the arms of Jackson, her childhood hero, but the Cavalry dragoon’s soul appears dark and dangerous as the Florida everglades. Virgil, on the other hand, is sweet as mama’s orange marmalade and optimistically forthright. If hearts are windows, like the glass-bottomed boats on nearby Silver River, Maribelle can trust hers to make the right choice.

Debt of Love by Lynn Coleman
Palatka, Florida—1868
Adeline Edwards, a Southern Belle with strong calloused hands from tending cattle, no longer attends balls. Banker, Phineas George Hamilton III, arrives at the plantation to recover the bank’s debt and discovers strong-willed Adeline doubts the bank’s claim. Can they figure out the debt, or will they find balance in love?

Hometown Bride by Patty Smith Hall
Marietta, Georgia—1870
Jilly Chastain never lied, but when her mother fabricates a marriage with her childhood sweetheart, Grayson Hancock, Jilly goes along with it, never expecting Grayson to show up, ready to make their make-believe marriage real.

Miss Beaumont’s Companion by Grace Hitchcock
Baton Rouge, Louisiana—1892
When lady’s companion Aria St. Angelo is coerced into posing as her political employer’s absent daughter for the evening at the Louisiana Governor’s masquerade ball, she wasn’t planning on falling for Byron Roderick, the most eligible bachelor in the capitol.

Above All These Things by Connie Stevens
East central Georgia—1855
Pre-conceived opinions and stubborn pride builds walls of resentment between Annulet Granville, the belle of Thornwalk Manor, and a visiting stranger. Annulet’s parents urge her to find a husband, but she labels Peyton Stafford the enemy. So what is she to do with Christ’s command to love her enemies?

pattyhallA multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour, Patty lives in North Georgia with her husband of 35 years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, her son-in-love and a grandboy who has her wrapped around his tiny finger. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.

 

 

 

 

Indie Publishing: My Journey

By Gail Johnson

If you google indie publishing, you’ll find umpteen dozen sites offering advice on how to publish your book. There, you’ll also find an opinion on why, where, and when to do it. Believe me!

Warning: You can spend years obtaining endless trails of information, or you can write a book and publish that puppy. One thing is certain, you’ll have to make your own decision on what is the best technique for you.

TreasuresofHopeFrontFinalIn 2017, I published my memoir, Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past. In this article I will share a little of the process and some surprises I encountered through that experience. Note: I am not, nor do I claim to be, an expert, so I’ve added links for you to discover your own path. Let’s get started.

Write

The first step is obvious. Write your story.

Editing

The second step should be obvious. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. The more eyes you have on your story the better to catch those mistakes. Hire an editor. Apply those edits. I hired a developmental editor and a copy editor. It was one of the best decisions I made during my journey.

Formatting

Some writers hire formatters while others do their own formatting. I did a little of both. For the print book, I used a template by Book Design Templates. For my e-book, I hired a formatter. The reason for that was I ran into problems on the e-book that neither the template techs nor Amazon techs could figure out. As weeks turned into months, I chose to hire someone to do the e-book. (I would like to add, a friend used Book Design Templates for her historical novel and had no problems.) I still recommend the templates.

Covers

You can order e-book covers any time during the writing process. But a print book cover must have several elements in place before ordering. Formatting your book will give you the needed page number to determine the width of your spine. No guessing. The page number must be exact.

By now, you should have the title and an idea what you’d like the front of your book to look like. To choose your photo you can visit the following sites. You can either choose a free photo or you can buy one. The main thing is to make sure you get the rights to the photograph. The following sites were suggested to me.

Bigstockphoto.com
Depositphotos.com
Unsplash.com
Shutterstock.com
Fotolia.com
Istockphoto.com
Dreamstime.com
Peopleimages.com

Another thing you will need for your cover is a blurb. A blurb is a description of your story printed on the back of your book. Psst. I had someone to help me write mine. You will also need an author picture and bio.

The last thing to think about for your print cover is the ISBN number. Some authors buy their own while others use a free CreateSpace ISBN. Read more here.

Now you are ready to order your cover or make your own if you so choose. I’m not that creative. I hired a cover designer.

Categories and Keywords

While you wait on the cover, think about your categories and keywords you’ll use once you’ve uploaded your manuscript. Categories describe the genre while keywords are the words you think people will use when searching for your book.

For instance, my book is a memoir, but it can be, and has been, used as a devotional and a study guide. So, three out of the seven keywords were memoir, devotional, and study guide.

Publishing

This part of the journey was a surprise to me. When my covers arrived in my inbox, the e-book was a jpeg, and the print copy was a pdf. Who knew? Next, I visited my friendly neighborhood publisher, such as KDP, CreateSpace, BN, IngramSpark. Again everyone has their opinions.

As with every new project, we may feel apprehension in the doing. I did! So, let me encourage you. It isn’t as hard as you think. Once you create your account, you’ll be taken to a dashboard that will lead you through the entire process. Just follow the direction and you’ll do fine. And if you run into any problems, contact the publisher. I had no problems getting my questions answered.

After uploading a pdf of your cover and manuscript to CreateSpace, they will review, print, and snail mail you a copy of your book. You will need to proof it. If you find a problem, correct it, and reorder. They will send you another proof. When you are satisfied with the result, you are ready to share your story with the world.

So there you have some of the interesting things I learned while publishing my book. If you’re an indie, what things would you add? If you published your book, what were the surprises in your journey to publication?

Click to Tweet: “So there you have some of the interesting things I learned on my publishing journey.” @GailJohnson87 for @InspiredPrompt #indie #author

Writing Prompt: Today, make a plan and add a date to publish your book.

Celebrating the Simple Life

by Gail Johnson

As a young mom, I planned awesome vacations and field trips for my kids. I wanted them to learn not just from books but by visiting places and experiencing life. However, after several outings, I gave up. It wasn’t about bickering and fighting in the car. My kids never fought. They still don’t. Maybe it’s the four-year age difference.

Neither was it the usual crazy things that can go wrong on field trips or vacations.  No. The reason I quit was my kids, like hobbits, preferred (prefer) to stay in the shire. Because if they left, they had to wear shoes or had to stop playing in the sandbox.

Another reason was riding wore them out. To this day, they will sleep while traveling and most of the next day.

Once, I planned a trip to a state park famous for wildlife. While wandering around the park,  I pointed to an animal crossing the grass in front of us. My son’s reaction? “I can see that at home. Can we go, now?”

It took some time, but I finally understood while I wanted my children to experience the world my way, they were experiencing the world in their own way at home. That year, I embraced the simple life and decided to transform our backyard into a never-ending field trip.

My first project was to create a beach. I had a sandbox (prior the endless grass-planting days) and the sun. All I needed to do was to buy a pool. Soon we were enjoying the laid-back beach life. Best decision ever! It’s still my favorite getaway.

Next, I constructed a zoo by planting grass and tasty plant life. After my yard make-over, rabbits, squirrels, deer, gopher turtles, snakes, and birds of the south, including wild turkeys, moved in to destroy taste my delectable yard. (I hope you’re catching the dry humor here.)

Later, I opened a get-away for family and friends. For Christmas, we bought four-wheelers for the kids and created mazes and trails to ride. Our house was filled with the laughter of all ages throughout the holiday season and for years to come.

Now, in their twenties, the kids love traveling with us. We may have gotten off to a late start, but we’re making up for lost time.

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.

Looking back, I can see what I would’ve missed if I hadn’t listened to my kids because God used the backyard as an instrument to reveal His purpose for our lives.

The pool became a place for sharing problems, hopes, prayers, and dreams. The four-wheeler trails became the paths my children walked as they prayed for guidance, and the animals taught us His faithfulness to supply our every need. It is for these blessings that I celebrate this simple life!

Now it’s your turn. How do you pass your summer? Do you go on vacations, or do you prefer to stay at home?

Click to Tweet: “It is for all these blessings that I celebrate this simple #life!” ~ @GailJohnson87 on @InspiredPrompt #family


Hognose 2-1Writing Prompt

Mary was happy with her morning progress. She had weeded the garden and gathered tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash.  It was time to call it a day. Reaching for her basket, she froze at the sight of a snake making its way around…

 

The Inspiration of Story

During this month, we are sharing how an author has inspired us. But instead of writing about how one has inspired me as a writer, I thought I would write about how they have inspired me as a reader.

The Exercise of Our Faith

I would like to begin with a quote from Eugene Peterson.

 

Parables aren't illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren't careful, becomes the exercise of our faith

 

Peterson begins, “Jesus was a master at subversion…. Parables sound absolutely ordinary: casual stories about soil and seed, meals and coins and sheep, bandits and victims, farmer and merchants. And they’re wholly secular: of his forty or so parables recorded in the Gospels, only one has its setting in church, and only a couple mention the name of God. As people heard Jesus tell these stories, they saw at once that they weren’t about God, so there was nothing in them threatening their own sovereignty. They relaxed their defenses. They walked away perplexed, wondering what they meant, the stories lodged in their imagination. And then, like a time bomb, they would explode in their unprotected hearts. An abyss opened up at their very feet. He was talking about God; they had been invaded.

“Jesus continually threw odd stories down alongside ordinary lives and walked away without explanation or altar call. …But the parable didn’t do the work—it put the listener’s imagination to work. Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

Story is a Powerful Thing

And there you have an outline for the perfect story. Fiction stories are parables. Stories ask the reader a “what if.” As a reader, we get caught up in a world not our own. We relax while experiencing this new private world. Unconsciously, we begin living the story and suddenly realize a hidden truth about ourselves we would have never recognized otherwise.

 

Story is a powerful thing.In the midst of recounting our stories, the veil of obscurity falls away, and we see clearly what we've hidden from ourselves.(1)

 

Inspiring Through Story

For example, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love opened my heart to the realization that I was lovable even though I felt the exact opposite. Through that word of truth, I began to thirst for a much-needed restorative healing balm to my shattered heart. That hunger led me to open up to the only One who could supply it.

The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson taught me that life doesn’t always go as planned and my prayers are not always answered the way I think they should be answered because only God knows what is best for His children. My job is to trust and obey Him. His plans are higher than mine.

Jill Austen, author of Master Potter and Master Potter and the Mountain of Fire inspired me to research pottery. When Austen’s character Beloved meets Master Potter, she accepts His invitation to the Potter’s house. Austen explains the process of making clay vessels while sharing spiritual truths.

 

 

I don’t remember everything about these authors’ books. But the one thing I do recall is the characters and the character arcs in the story. Because I became that character. Each one of these authors inspired me to seek for that which my heart longed for: make a difference in this life through my relationship with Christ. Isn’t that the reason we write? To make a difference? To inspire change?


Writing Prompt: Do you recall an author that has made a difference in your life? What changes did you make after reading their book? Take a moment to reflect on that change. Now make a list of how you can inspire those around you.

Click to Tweet: How an Author Inspired Me. “Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

 

3 Questions Wednesday ~ Davalynn Spencer

Good morning, dear reader. Welcome to another 3QW. Today, we have Davalynn Spencer with us. She is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. I love a good western. How ’bout you?

davalynn-spencer-media-4 small

Welcome, Davalynn! Can you describe yourself in three words?

Compulsively writing worshipper

I like that. I believe writing is a form of worship to our Master Storyteller. Great answer. Now . . .

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

I would follow the Rocky Mountain’s spine into Montana where my husband and I rodeoed for several years. The only problem with researching in Montana is that I might not return.

horses-78223_1280

Montana is a beautiful place. Quiet and open. Perfect for writing. 🙂 Last question . . .

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

This song suits me right down to the ground – “Someday Soon” sung by Judy Collins. After I met my cowboy, I started singing it too.

I remember that one! Judy Collins sings about a cowboy and the rodeo.

Click to Tweet: How an author inspired me. 3QW with author Davalynn Spencer @InspiredPrompt #interview #giveaway

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of An Unexpected Redemption.


An Unexpected Redemption

He doesn’t need her sass. She doesn’t need his approval. But they both need a second chance.

An Unexpected Redemption logo.smallAbandoned by her faithless husband for the Dakota gold fields, rancher’s daughter Elizabeth Beaumont returns to her hometown determined to prove she’s not the impetuous girl she once was. Armed with a new skill and old determination, she’s intent on making it on her own. Discovering that the new sheriff lives downstairs in the same boarding house wouldn’t be nearly so frustrating if he’d stay out of her affairs, quit calling her Betsy, and stop making her wonder if she could love again.

Garrett Wilson exchanged his deputy’s badge for a drover’s bedroll after his first attempt at law enforcement cost an innocent bystander his life. Now Wilson’s back wearing a star in a Front Range cow town, hunting an arsonist and falling for a woman who wants to know the secret behind his deepest scar. He can run again from his painful past, or he can stay and fight for the town that needs him and the woman who’s worked under his skin and into his heart.


davalynn-spencer-media-4 smallWife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer writes heart-tugging, cowboy romance set along the Front Range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. She is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. An award-winning rodeo journalist and former crime-beat reporter, Davalynn makes her home in Colorado where she caters to Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with her at http://davalynnspencer.com/