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.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How to spot a "show don't tell" violation

More revisions?  Like to find those areas you could improve, like searching for the word "was"?

Search for any narration that includes distance.  Words like "about", "miles", "feet", "yards".

These are boring descriptions that leave the reader trying to imagine what 100 yards really looks like.  Ever notice how many times people refer to football fields when talking about distance?  It's because we can visualize a football field. 

About is usually a dead give away, unless you're describing what something is about.  And again, it's ok for characters to use this, as people do this all the time, but the narrator shouldn't.  It's just boring, because we're not interested in metrics or area or what have you. 

For Example:

The road stretched for about two miles ahead of us.  First of all, I can't visualize two miles, because even in the flattest heartland of Kansas, you may not be able to actually see two miles.  But regardless, this is boring.  The road stretched out ahead of us until it shrank into itself on the horizon gives you a better visualization.  When Andy Dufrane crawled through a half-mile of the foulest smelling shit you could think of, Stephen King made sure we knew that was "five and half football fields". 

That's a long way.

If something is about a hundred yards away, you could say the person of interest was so far away they appeared slightly larger than my thumb.  Or Jim Lovell used to block out the moon with the tip of his thumb, indicating how far away something that big was.

How deep is the ocean?  Don't answer in miles.  Someone going two miles below the surface of the ocean is hard to visualize.  Someone going so deep in the ocean that the sun, without a single cloud to block it, vanished like God had pulled the string and clicked it off, is in pretty deep. 

A little flowery, I know, but you get the point.  Watch for places where your narrator is telling us about distances and you'll find plenty of gold pieces you just need to dust off.

So?  Go get crackin' and WRITE ON!

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