Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tell, Don't Show!

Damn the advice! Go for broke! Do what everyone says not to do!

Ok, I'm just kidding. Oh did I mention I now have sponsors? Oh sure. They're lining up. Today's blog post is brought to you by Crust Toothpaste! The toothpaste that leaves just a little something extra on your teeth!

Seriously, down to business. Saw a great post by one of my favorite blogger agents, Mary Kole (check out her blog here).  She's with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, which must be a very respectable agency because they turned me down twice.

Anyway, she has a great blog post about when to show and not tell, and so on.  Good reading.

But I'm here to blow that up.

Well, maybe not blow it up, but in addition to her words of wisdom (and she is right on - VERY insightful.  if you don't RSS her blog or follow her...go do it.  Now.  I'll wait.)

Sorry - in addition to her words of wisdom I wanted to pass on a couple of things I've learned that may help.

First of all, if you want to tell if you're telling and not showing, search your manuscript for BE verbs.  That's it.  That's all there is to it.  See, a 'be' verb by its very nature is a non-action verb.  Most every time you use it you're telling us about something rather than showing it.  "It was a dark and stormy night".  It was a long haul.  I was so nervous.  What's the common denominator?  Was, was, was.

Now, this isn't foolproof.  Read Mary's post for more insight.  But is a good way to quickly browse through forty or fifty thousand words to see where you might have a problem.

Point number 2?  DON'T SWEAT IT ON THE FIRST DRAFT!  I can't stress this enough.  When you write the first draft - WRITE.  Break all the rules!  Screw the 'no adverbs' and 'be verbs' rules.  Just write!  Otherwise, your killer novel will be a killer pile of paper in your top right drawer.  The first draft will never get to be a second draft UNTIL it's finished.

Remember, always remember, that writing is re-writing.  Give yourself that freedom to spew out words, and don't be surprised by the number of be verbs.  Don't even try to tame it.   It's in our nature.  We "tell" stories, we don't "show" stories.  We didn't go to bed as little kids begging mom to "show" us a story.

Oddly enough, though, no one buys a story and READS a story that's "told".  So, after you get through the first draft, the exquisite freedom of bad writing flowing from your fingers to your computers, it's time to get serious.  Revise, revise, revise.  Share with your critique group.  Use the MS Word SEARCH feature for 'ly', 'was', 'is', etc.  Take your time and revise.  But get it done.  Completing the novel is the hard part.  Revising is the hard work.  But both have to happen.

Until next time - WRITE ON!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Kev. I read both of the KidLit posts this week, and also Holly's follow-up post here: http://hollybodger.com/?p=688

    I like your tip on finding forms of "to be" in your MS. (is, was, were, isn't, wasn't, weren't, etc.). That happens to be one of my revision steps.


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