The Hardest Thing About Writing; Self-Editing

Welcome to another manic Wednesday! It’s great to have you with us on this humid Pennsylvania morning. Hopefully, one of those Central Pennsylvania thunder storms will roll in soon and cool things off.

One of the hardest things for me to do is to edit my writing. I can catch mistakes in other’s pieces, but I miss too much when I’m checking my own – not sure why. Jerry Jenkins, notable Christian author, lists several facts to be considered when checking your own story. Where can you improve?

Have you:
Maintained a single Point of View per scene.

Avoided clichés—not just words and phrases, but
also situations.

Resisted the urge to explain, showing rather than
telling. For example, not, “It’s cold,” which is
merely flat, telling narrative, but rather, “She
shivered,” which is descriptive language, showing
a character in action, letting the reader experience
the story and deduce what is going on without
being told.

Primarily used said to attribute dialogue, rather than
any other option.

Included specifics to add the ring of truth.

Avoided similar character names or even the same
first initials to keep characters distinct. o Avoided
specialized punctuation, typestyles, font sizes, ALL
CAPS, italics, bold facing, etc.

I have to admit, I never thought about some of these. Maybe you haven’t either. Maybe it’s time. Anyway, ponder this until we meet again. See you next week!

WFK

How Many Times Have You Heard, Show Don’t Tell?

Happy late Memorial Day to everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful time of relaxation with family and friends – or just a time to kick back and lessen the pressure and stress that so easily creeps up on us. Now, are you ready to dig in for the rest of the summer?

Let’s revisit the first rule of writing. Show, don’t tell. We know what we’re supposed to do, but do we – at least with consistency? Let me give you five ways you might be telling when you could be showing.

  1. Giving too much information at one time may cause telling, especially relating to backstory. Rather than dump the whole thing on us at one time. Spread the information throughout the story. Try to not use more than three sentences at a time. Dialogue can be effective in revealing information pertinent to your piece.
  2. Don’t get into the habit of always using words to express your character. Sometimes, things are better off left unsaid. Let the action make the statement.
  3. Writing is about sharing your character intimately with your reader. There needs to be an emotional connection. When emotion is lacking, it may be because you’re telling too much. Back off and show it. A beta reader might be helpful. It’s hard for us, as authors, to know how our material affects an outsider. We’re too close to the story to see straight at times.
  4. Could it be your scenes are too short? If every scene feels like an introduction or summary, then you may have a telling problem. Telling takes fewer words, and it leaves scenes feeling like they end before they even begin. It’s like telling a friend the plot of a scary movie versus making them see it themselves. You can tell a story in a minute, but the movie takes at least an hour.
  5. A story is like a puzzle. It comprises various pieces the reader needs to put together. If there are no puzzle pieces for the reader to apply, you’ve probably told too much. Don’t spoon-feed your readers. They want to do the work, investigate for themselves, and discover the secrets within. Showing allows them to do this. Telling takes the work – and the fun out of it. No doubt you’ll lose your reader.

Well, there you have it! Stay safe and healthy until next time.

WFK