Leave a comment

It’s time to bring on the Lights, Camera, Action in your writing.

Right now it feels like I’m spending all my time editing and rewriting. Here’s an article I read at http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/showing-vs-telling-in-your-writing.  We’ve all heard the dreaded “Show don’t Tell” in writing. You can’t always see these problems, especially in your own writing. This article will help you recognize the telling in your story and turn it into action.

 camera99

Showing vs. Telling in Your Writing: The Camera Test

I’ll give you a little tool here that could revolutionize your understanding of showing and telling in fiction. I may not be the first person to talk about it in these terms, but I know I’ve never heard it before I thought it up. So at least I’m its co-inventor.

Maybe you want to rid your fiction of telling but you simply can’t see it—not in other people’s fiction and certainly not in your own. So how can you delete something you can’t even see? There’s a question you can ask of any passage you feel may be telling. You ready? Get the passage in front of you and ask this of it: Can the camera see it?

There are exceptions, but Can the camera see it? is a terrific tool for helping you begin to see the telling in a manuscript. Let’s test it:

Urlandia was a peaceful realm. Peasants and nobles alike lived in harmony despite the occasional bout with famine or invaders from the neighboring kingdom of Dum. There were heroes and cads, pirates and tavern wenches, and in all, their lives were good.

Okay, aside from this being deadly dull, is it showing or telling? Let’s load up the testing gun and fire: Can the camera see it?

Your mind might have conjured up an image of a fantasy countryside with green meadows, vast forests, and castles with pennants flapping in the breeze, but how could you have seen “the occasional bouts with famine”? How could you see that their lives were good? You couldn’t. You weren’t shown any of this—you were simply told. And it probably left you feeling a little sleepy.

It would be quite possible to convert this telling to showing by depicting  things before the camera’s lens that suggest each of these elements. But right now it’s unconverted telling. I can’t tell you how many unpublished novels I’ve seen that start like this. And I’ve rejected every single one of them. You don’t want your book rejected, so don’t put telling anywhere in the first fifty pages.

One more:

Veronica shifted into park and got out of her VW bug. She shielded her eyes from the afternoon sun and stared at the house. It was smaller than she remembered. And had it always been this run-down, or had it fallen into disrepair only lately? It had once been white, but the siding slats desperately needed a new paint job.

Two giant antennae poked up from the roof like alien tentacles. They were held in place by cables, but the one on the right nevertheless tilted at a diagonal. Maybe it helped with reception. The porch was covered by an awning of flaking wood. Whether the walls beneath the wood were worse off than the rest or they just looked that way because they were shrouded in shadow, Veronica couldn’t tell.

She sighed. If this is where she came from, no wonder she’d turned out as she had.

Okay, load up the testing gun. Can the camera see this? Actually, yes. Aside from a violation of the rule not to start a novel with someone getting out of a car, it’s not terrible prose. It’s description. Some people would be inclined to cut it because nothing seems to be happening: It’s neither action nor dialogue, so it must be telling. But that would be a mistake, since a lack of description can get your book declined. Description isn’t telling because … the camera can see it. Without description, the reader can’t visualize the story—which means that your story can’t go forward without description. Don’t leave it out.

As I mentioned, there are exceptions. The camera can’t see sounds or smells or temperatures or tastes, though a description of those things would not be telling. Also, interior monologue—the viewpoint character’s thoughts and interpretations—can’t be seen by a camera and is therefore not (usually) telling. But on the whole, Can the camera see it? will help you immediately spot and eliminate telling.

-This article was written by author of The First 50 Pages Jeff Gerke.

I think author Jeff Gerke found the perfect way to focus in on the telling. Now it’s time to go over my novel with my “showing vs telling” camera. I hope this will help you in your writing also.

Bring on the Lights, Camera, Action!

light camera action

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Johnny Reads

All things books, all the time

cancer killing recipe

Just another WordPress.com site

A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself

A Hopefully Formerly Depressed Human Vows To Practice Self-Approval

unbolt me

the literary asylum

Capable Fitness

Being confronted with adversity in your life is inevitable. Just keep in mind that it does not have to defeat you. Adversity is often short lived. Giving up is what makes it permanent. As a certified fitness professional, this blog is my way of helping you feel capable of anything.

Real Tasty Pages

You can find me in a Book or a Make Up store!

All Romance Reads

Get Your Swoon On

What I Write

The Adventures of an Erotica Author

Heartstring Eulogies

Conjured by Sarah Doughty

Hit or Miss Books

Honest book reviews for the Young Adult, New Adult and Adult categories.

abooknation

Book reviews, recommendations and more

Deidra Alexander's Blog

I have people to kill, lives to ruin, plagues to bring, and worlds to destroy. I am not the Angel of Death. I'm a fiction writer.

%d bloggers like this: