Showing posts from June, 2009

Show versus Tell--when to tell, examples

Camy here: Since so many people asked me to, I ran a series of blog posts with examples about when it was better to tell rather than show. This is a compilation of those blog posts. If I post additional examples, I'll just add them to this article. Also, remember, these are not hard and fast rules about when to show and when to tell. Please do not take these examples as such. Ultimately, it's up to you as the writer since it's YOUR manuscript. Utilize whatever is best for your writing voice, the rhythm and pacing you're aiming for, or the atmosphere you're trying to obtain. For examples of "telling," see this article. Telling isn’t always bad. In fact, sometimes it’s preferable. However, you ought to have a darn good reason to tell. One reason could be to telescope time . If you’re skipping from one place to another, or one time to another, that’s where telling is good. Say Joe has been arrested and then in the next scene, he’s talking to his jailmate. It

The first page, part 8 - Reveal your voice

This is continuing my series on things to look for in your first page. Click here for part seven. Reveal your voice When I have talked to editors and agents, they always tell me that the first thing they noticed about their clients/authors is the writer’s voice. Voice is what jumped out at them from the very first page. Voice is what captured them and compelled them to keep reading. If you’re not sure about your own writer’s voice, it’s really worth it to spend some time developing it. Voice is something that can be learned. I wrote a series of blog posts with some good exercises for developing your writer’s voice. I compiled them all into one blog article here: Developing Your Writer’s Voice Back to your first page. Utilize those opening paragraphs to showcase your unique voice. Your voice will grab the editor by the throat and make them keep reading past that first page. The great thing about voice is that you don’t have to alter the story to add voice. It’s there in how you show th

Story Sensei Question and Answer

Hey guys, It occurred to me that you guys might have specific writing craft or writing business questions that I could answer for you. So, comment and leave your question, and I'll address the questions in posts on this blog throughout the month of July! Camy

Show versus Tell, examples

Many of you have seen the “Show, don’t tell” rule in writing articles and books. Basically, you want to “show” the reader the character’s emotions, not “tell” the reader the emotions the character is feeling. “Telling” tends to be distant point of view , which distances the reader from the character’s emotions. “Showing” involves your reader in what’s going on. It’s active and also concrete or tangible. The descriptions are usually more vivid and evoke emotion in the reader. Rather than telling information, show it through the character’s emotional reactions to something that happens in real time. Telling versus showing is a common mistake for writers because, at heart, we’re all storytellers, and that’s how storytellers “tell” a story. However, for writing fiction, you’d rather “show” the reader the action and make the reader an active participant in the events playing out. Put it this way: Like the audience of a play, the reader sees the characters acting and moving about on

Oh the Joys of Freewriting!

I talked about Freewriting and why that can help with character development over at the Seekerville blog: Camy here, talking today about how freewriting is saving my sanity. Yes, it’s true, I’m not being melodramatic (although Ruthy would probably differ—hush, woman!). Usually, when I’m brainstorming a new novel, I am armed with a pen, Post-It notes, and my closet doors: Click here to read the rest of the article

Motivation--got enough?

Cheryl Wyatt posted on character internal motivations over at Seekerville today: ToooT! TooooT! Chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga.... Welcome to Seekerville! Today I wanted to talk about something that I think is crucial in story structure, yet something not a lot of authors fully understand. I'm still on this learning train too by the way. Just this week I was brainstorming a new proposal with my editors in New York the day before Book Expo America and it dawned on me that character motivation has many more layers than I had really consciously thought about before. Click here to read the rest of the post, which includes examples!

Tips for How to Present Backstory

Even if you don't present backstory in the first chapter of a novel, you have to present at some time in the book. But there are a few tricks you can use to make that backstory as emotionally compelling as possible. I wrote this article, which originally appeared on Suite101. Tips for How to Present Backstory Make a Character’s Past History Compelling Here are some good tricks to use when writing backstory in a novel so that the reader is intrigued by the information. The key to presenting backstory in a way that is interesting to a reader boils down to one piece of advice: Make the reader want to know the information. As a reader gets to know the characters and become interested in them, she will naturally want to know more about them. But even beyond this natural interest, up the stakes. Make the past important to the reader because it ties together mysterious threads of the current action. Dole Out Backstory in Bits and Pieces When information is given out slowly,

Save the Backstory For Later

Ever wonder why you hear that it's "taboo" to include backstory in the first chapter of a novel? I always did, too, until I discovered some psychological reasons why it's best to keep it out of the first chapter for the modern reader. I wrote an article, which originally appeared on Suite101. Save the Backstory For Later Why Not to Present Backstory in the First Chapter There are three reasons why it’s usually best for a writer not to include backstory in a novel’s first chapter. Writers often hear the advice to not include backstory or the character’s past history within the first chapter of the story. Many balk at this. After all, a character’s backstory explains things, makes the character’s actions make more sense. Otherwise, the reader will be confused or, worse, dislike the protagonist for his actions because there’s no explanation for this aberrant behavior. Also, backstory sets the stage for future conflict. Past secrets often cause problems for t

Opening a Scene In a Character’s Viewpoint

As a follow up to my article about establishing the viewpoint character at the beginning of a scene, I also wrote this article, which originally appeared on Suite101, on a few tips for how to continue with the scene from the viewpoint character. Opening a Scene In a Character’s Viewpoint Some Do’s and Don’ts For Establishing Point of View There are a few things to keep in mind when establishing the point of view character at the beginning of a scene. When a writer opens a scene, the viewpoint character should be immediately established in order to slip the reader into a character’s skin. But once you’ve established the viewpoint character, there are a few things to remember in order to keep the reader interested. Plant and Point Deliberately Don’t waste the reader’s time by pointing out things that are insignificant to the story or that don’t somehow establish characterization. For example, if the hero likes the color blue, but it’s not relevant to the story, don’t hav

Establish the Character Viewpoint

I wrote this article, which originally appeared on Suite101, on a few quick tips for opening a scene and establishing the point of view character. Establish the Character Viewpoint Start the Scene Quickly in Someone’s Point of View Utilize these tips in establishing the point of view character when opening a scene. In his book, Techniques of the Selling Writer , Dwight Swain writes this about character viewpoint: Viewpoint is the spot from which you see a story. It’s the position and perspective you occupy in order best to savor a fictional experience. Ordinarily, that vantage point is inside somebody’s skin. That is, your reader will live through your story as some specific character experiences it. He’ll see and hear and smell and taste and touch and think and feel precisely what that person sees and hears and smells and what have you. Keep this in mind as you establish character viewpoint—slip your reader into the character’s skin. Choose the Viewpoint Character