Think I misspelt that?
I haven't done one of these segments in a while, too many celebrations and challenges and stuff! For those just tuning in to the Talks, my Writing a Book posts are journal entries of things I've learned and how I'm working through this crazy process.
Any dog fans out there? I love my puppy! He's 85 lbs, but still a puppy. I love how innocent and eager to please and playful he is. And I love that I know exactly how he's feeling by his tail! When he's happy, of course it's wagging, usually his whole back half is wiggling and it's a lethal weapon! When he's sad or sick it goes down. Alert, the tail is upright and stiff while his nose sniffs the air. Casual, laidback tail is up but loose. When he's afraid, it does a hesitant wag with his hair standing up. And when he's in trouble it's, yup, between his legs.
Wouldn't it be great if humans had tails? No games or hiding emotions! Everyone would know how each other felt. But we don't. We have to use our words! And one of the toughest jobs of a writer is to SHOW how characters are feeling. It's easy to tell the reader, but showing lets the reader figure it out, helps them feel the emotions. Great writing wraps readers right into the story, making them connect with the characters.
Here is an example of telling, pointed out to me from my submission at Unicorn Bell:
As Cooper immersed himself in historic plantation legend, unsure of what he would find, a woman walked by his table and stopped to look over his shoulder at his book.
That's all obsevation, an onlooker explaining what they see. Boring. Now I will try to edit it into showing, by bringing you into his head.
Cooper waded through page after page of historic plantations hoping for a clue that would get him into the Creator's manor house unobserved. An unexpectedly pleasant scent made him stop reading to sniff the air. The slight rustling behind him confirmed his hunch of a woman looking over his shoulder at his book.
(Now if they were dogs, they'd do a little butt sniffing and their tails would tell us if they were into each other or not. Ah, the simplicity of dogs!)
So what do you think? Any suggestions for helping us Show instead of Tell?