Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Up to My Elbows

For me, great books are the ones that let me get my hands all up in the action.  I don't want to be told a story about a girl who reached inside the pumpkin she was carving and pulled out an ring box.  I want to experience the excitement and surprise without the emotional distance.  I want to be elbow deep in pumpkin guts, figuratively that is. 

Watching a roller coaster speed down the track while listening to the screams of the riders can be enjoyable. However, it does not compare to sitting harnessed in your seat with the anticipation growing stronger as the people below grow smaller, looking more like ants scurrying through their farm.  The climb continues until you are certain you will reach the heavens before the summit.  The ascension stops creating a silence full of both fear and excitement.   Your life and your lunch hang in the balance.

Ok. My description is quick, but you get my point.  There is a difference between being on that coaster through the stomach turning journey, and being told it was the best coaster ever. 

Telling is a common problem, I see it creeping into my drafts more often than I am happy to admit.  David Farland shared a great Kick in the Pants post recently on reasons we should not put this emotional distance between us and our readers.  So hop on over there for a kick and then start writing from stories your readers can experience.


  1. This is a great reminder, Amber! I had a hard time when I first started writing understanding the difference between "telling" and "showing". And I still see it creeping in every once in awhile, just like you. You've given some great examples of how showing creates a different experience for the reader than telling. Thanks!

  2. I too have this problem. There are two things I have learned that have really helped me. First, it's ok to tell your first draft (especially if your a panster like me). The first draft is the author learning about the story and exploring the world. Telling is ok in the first draft because you just want to get the story written! The second thing I've learned is that when I write in third person, I sometimes pull the reader away from the action because I'm not firmly in the character's head. A teacher once told me to write my scene in first person then switch all the pronouns to first person. It really works!



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