Thursday, September 14, 2006

Lesson 1: Show and Tell

Hey it's Thursday already and I've dawdled away the week...What's new! I've always got the best of intentions, but intentions are like posteriors...Everybody has one!

Today...Yes Rulan, I finally got here...Today we are starting editing lessons from the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

These lessons will be shortened overviews of the chapters and by no means should be a substitute for buying the book. I'm rereading but skipping a lot of good stuff!

This first lesson is going to be two days of Show and Tell.

What exactly makes a scene a scene? For one thing it takes place in real time. Your readers watch events as they unfold, whether those events are a group discussion of the merits of Woody Allen flicks, or a woman lying in a field pondering the meaning of life. In scenes, events are seen as they happen rather than described after the fact. Even flashbacks...Don't cringe...Sometimes they're necessary...Show events as they unfold, although they have unfolded in the past within the context of the story!

Scenes also contain action, something that happens. Of course anything that can go into a scene can also be narrated. And since scenes are usually harder to write than narration, many writers rely too heavily on narrative summary to tell their stories.

The result is often page after page, chapter after chapter of writing that reads clearly, perhaps even stylishly, but with no specific setting, no specific characters, no dialogue.

since engagement is exactly what a fiction writer wants to accomplish, you're well advised to rely heavily in immediate scenes to put your story across. You want to draw your readers into the world you've created, make them feel a part of it, make them forget where they are.

And you can't do this effectively if you tell your readers about your world secondhand! You have to take them there. 'Showing' your story to your readers through scenes will not only give your writing immediacy. It will give your writing transparency. One of the easiest ways to look like an amateur is to use mechanics that direct attention to themselves and away from the story.

Of course there will be times when you need to resort to narrative summary, especially if your writing a historical novel or scifi, both of which usually require conveying a lot of information to your readers before you can touch their emotions.

We'll talk more about this in the next chapter, but you'd be surprised at how much exposition can be converted into scenes...right Mimi?

That's it for today, except for the quotable quotes below! Join us again tomorrow for More Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself ~~"Lillian, you should have remained a virgin."
-- Lillian Carter (mother of Jimmy Carter)

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: "No good in a bed, but fine against a wall."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement.
-- Mark Twain

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.
-- George Burns

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.
-- Victor Borge

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
-- Mark Twain

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
-- Socrates

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
-- Groucho Marx

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.
-- Jimmy Durante

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.
-- Zsa Zsa Gabor

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.
-- Alex Levine

My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.
-- Rodney Dangerfield

Money can't buy you happiness…but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
-- Spike Milligan

I am opposed to millionaires .... but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
-- Mark Twain

Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP.
-- Joe Namath

I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.
-- Bob Hope

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.
-- W.C. Fields

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.
-- Will Rogers

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.
-- Winston Churchill

May be it's true that life begins at fifty ... but everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.
-- Phyllis Diller

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step; he's too old to go anywhere.
-- Billy Crystal

The cardiologist's diet: If it tastes good, spit it out.


  1. David Meigs said...
    I love these new colors. Wow!

    It looks like a great new series too!
    Bernita said...
    Those disgusting fish!
    Rulan said...
    lol. I got a mention. ;)

    I agree with David. Great colors and it looks like another great series.

    Next lesson, please. :)
    M. C. Pearson said...
    Right, Bonnie! calls and birthing day parties!

Post a Comment