In our Zoom critique session this morning, we of Crème de la Crime got into a discussion of when to show and action or emotion and when to tell.
The oft-repeated direction is ‘show, don’t tell.’ Like any rule, particularly any rule in writing, it’s made to be broken.
Show is usually better. More action, and it calls on the reader’s imagination, which we authors hope draws the reader into the story.
As our member Karl pointed out, sometimes it takes a paragraph of show to carry out what a sentence of tell can do.
In the end, Greg rewrote the Serenity Prayer thusly:
God, grant me the focus to show when it's warranted,
the brevity to tell when appropriate,
and the wisdom the know the difference.
I am almost finished with Alpha, soon to need Beta. Which is to say, I am near the end of the rewrite of my third novel, Fail Deadly.
The first draft was the easy part … six months on a roller coaster ride, wind in the face, screaming along the tracks of the plot. Unalloyed joy. Then began the hard part: Rewrite. I am truly fortunate to be a member of three critique groups, so the chapters have gone before a jury of talented writers. Line by line, character by character, week by painstaking week, they have stayed with the story. They are, in the parlance of writerdom, the Alpha readers. I am almost through integrating many of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of suggestions.
The next step is the Beta. The Alphas can’t do it — they’re too familiar with the detail. I will need several people willing to read the manuscript all the way through, looking for character flaws, plot inconsistencies. Or perhaps most valuable to me (as well as most painful), saying, “I got bored at page X and couldn’t finish.”
If you, dear reader are interested in being a Beta, let me know through Contact page or straight to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll have the manuscript in Word and PDF files, e-books in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as a few paper copies.