Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Topic: Writing Fiction

10-second review: Be sure you are showing and not telling.

Title: “9 Signs You’re Telling, Not Showing.” LJ Peterson. The Writer (May 2009), 13. The Writer is a magazine by writers for writers.

Summary: Write a first draft as quickly as possible and then go back to analyze your scenes to make sure you are not simply telling instead of showing. Nine symptoms that you are telling and not showing:

1. Too many cerebral verbs: think, feel, hope, suspect, fear, regret and understand, for example.

2. Weak verbs: entered, moved, went, fell, rose.

3. Use of the verb to be: Produces static writing: be, am, is, are, was, were, and any verb ending in be, being or been.

4. Adverbs: They “weaken action.”

5. Missing senses. Use senses in addition to the visual—hearing, taste, touch and smell.

6. Non specific adjectives: “an old man”; “decrepit house.” Use specific images.

7. Generic nouns: children, building, vehicle—no specific image.

8. Narrative summary: summarizing what happened instead of showing it happening.

9. Overloaded dialogue: too long or too much information.

Comment: In the article, the author provides solutions to each of these problems. This advice applies to students who are writing narratives in describing incidents and scenes, as well as fiction. RayS.

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