Show Vs. Tell Week #1

     SO…..I’ve looked forward to posting the Show and Tell responses all week.  Hallie, Julie, Michele and Mark all did an amazing job and things turned out much as I expected.  Everyone had a different story and a different viewpoint. 
     As I read the responses, I found myself wanting to know more, almost like turning to the first page of a book with a great first paragraph…..They all hooked me.  But then again….this was expected…these guys are really great writers and I appreciate them doing this exercise with me.  So….without further adieu…

Hallie Sawyer – @Hallie_Sawyer
     He could see the sun fading behind the mountains, making it safe for them to move again. He felt her letting go so he grabbed her hand tighter. He knew he had to be strong for the both of them if they were to survive.
     The horizon beckoned, sending the last of its warm glow across the desolate landscape. Feeling her grip weakening, his fingers tightened around hers, willing her to stay with him. He closed his eyes, searching within himself for the strength to do whatever it took to keep her alive.

Julie Anne Lindsey – @JulieALindsey
     He stood there in the tall grass, with her at his feet. The sky loomed overhead and they were saddened by the battle behind them, though he was feeling too defiant to cry like she was.
     Though the battle behind them yielded great loss, defiance kept his tears from falling. Protecting the woman at his feet was all that mattered now.

Michele Shaw – @veertothewrite
     Killing her wouldn’t be easy. He felt agony over losing his best friend, his lover. When he saw the nearly obscured sun, he knew it was time. He prepared to turn and strike.
     Warm winds blew like silk across his scarred chest. They carried the scent of hell on earth, as sooty clouds threatened to end the last remaining strands of sunlight. Sharpened steel quivered in his hand, inches from the precious, ivory-skinned throat he had to slit. If her violet eyes captured his gaze, blade would never meet flesh.

Mark Souza – @souzawrites
     Clarissa took Ryan out into the field so they could be alone. She clung to him after delivering the news: she was pregnant.
     A hot breeze gusted across the plain carrying the scent of wheat and something else deeper and primal. Ryan, stiff and distant, stared out toward the horizon as if Clarissa didn’t exist. She clung to him, afraid to speak, afraid to make things worse. The sky, anvil heavy and dark, swirled like a living thing filled with rage, the anger of it reflected in Ryan’s eyes. It was as if he blamed her. As if the thing growing within her was her doing alone, her way of pushing him, her way of trapping him.

A Note From Mark:
***Show and tell each has their place in a novel. The scene above seems to be important to plot, so show would be the better option to truly delve into what’s happening. But within any story, there are transitions and scene setting where telling is the best option to keep things moving along. Pacing is important; knowing where to slow down to develop the full impact of a scene, and where to speed up to keep the pace moving and pages turning.

Charissa Weaks – @charissaweaks
     I fell to my knees when I saw the fire behind the mountains. Everything we loved would be gone. He squeezed my hand as if promising to avenge me. I cried as the stench of the fire approached.  I felt him quiver in anger. They would regret this.
     I collapsed at the sight of a burning sky in the distance. Nothing would be left of our home, our people, and the world we had so desperately struggled to save.
     “They will pay for this,” he promised as his hand closed tightly around mine.
     Tears stung my tired eyes as the sweet stench of the fiery battle crept across the mountains and spread into the field, leaving the scent of death lingering around us.
     His hand trembled and his body went rigid, but not from fear. Only rage existed inside him now and I knew what was to come.
     They would regret this last attempt to destroy us, for all the fire in hell could not stop us now.

     Pretty cool, huh?  I think Mark hit the nail on the head.  Writing is about balance and knowing when to use what.  The best advice I can give is to STUDY WHEN YOU READ.  The next time you sit down with a good book, pay attention to the pacing, sentence structure, and dialogue patterns.  Look at how showing and telling are used and alternated.  No book is all showing or all telling…there has to be a good mix.  I mean think about it!
     I heard the baby cry.  It scared me.  I ran to her room.  I opened the door and the smell knocked me down.  She had a poopy diaper.  I changed it and rocked her to sleep. 
     I heard her horrible cry echo from her bedroom and I ran in fear.  I burst through the door of her room and was thankful to find her tears were due to a little surprise she’d left in her diaper.  I cleaned her up and took her in my arms lovingly and lulled her back to sleep.
     UGH….There are just some things that 1) don’t need lengthy play by play tells, and 2) don’t warrant a flowery show.  In this case, be brief and blend…
     Hearing her cry, I panicked and ran to her room.  Thankfully the culprit was only a dirty diaper.  I cleaned her up and rocked her back to sleep.
     Also….rememember that fault often lies in the hand of the verb.  Especially state of being verbs like was, is, be, being, been, and are.
     Instead of:
     He was (state-of-being verb) angry. 
     (Really?  He is?  How do I know that?)
     His body quivered (action verb) with anger. 
     (Because it was so bad his body quivered.)
      I hope this helps!  I’m not the best at this…I’m still learning too!  Show and Tell will continue next week with this photo as our theme:

Sorry Mark….I know it’s a girly picture, but you’re a little outnumbered honey… 🙂  Writers…Thanks again for sharing your creativity!
Please leave a comment or your own show and tell!

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  1. I loved this… My last round of revisions on my current WIP is going to be all about balancing the show and tell, so I need ALL of the examples I can get!!!
    Thank you!

  2. these were great examples!
    and mark really did hit the nail on the head – there are definately times when we need to just tell something for pacing purposes.

  3. Thanks! I hope you don't mind that I linked this post in my comment of East for Green Eyes' musings on the subject, plus I plan to link it to my post tomorrow!

    Good stuff, part 2 also. (Btw, I originally found your comment/url from Jennifer's Walkup's blogsite.)

  4. This is a really interesting exercise, from many different perspectives. I am a bit of a shocker when it comes to telling when I should be showing. I think it's because I want to get on to the next exciting bit too quickly!

    I shall be back to see what your writers make of the next picture 🙂

    :Dom (My No Fear Blogfest)