Show and Tell

Yesterday, I mentioned fighting with a scene in my head. It was one of those that grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go. Every time I tried to think about my WIP, I couldn’t. These two got in the way. It began as a sort of fantasy and developed from there.

So I decided to just sketch out the scene. But a short paragraph of narrative would not do; they demanded more.

Fine, then: I began to tell their story. Again, I wanted to do this quickly so I could move on to the novel. Then something happened. I wrote the word “nervously.” OK, I know you’re not supposed to use adverbs while writing. But it wasn’t intended to be anything; I wasn’t “writing.” It was enough to give me pause, and I couldn’t leave it there. I asked myself how I could show he was nervous. Which then drew out that single sentence to an entire paragraph. I began to see the point of showing, not telling. I wish I’d taken this to heart back in November; I may have hit my 50K word NaNoWriMo goal.

At that point, I decided to challenge myself to show instead of tell whenever possible in this story. “They” say it depends on the scene: if it’s a simple one, no big deal. If there is tension, show it. Well, this entire scene in my head is tension, first word to last. And I’m learning a lot, just in those few pages that I have so far. While it’s a distraction from the WIP, at least it’s been an incredibly beneficial writing exercise. I already feel as though I can approach the novel again, better prepared.

There are two people in this scene, and I need to show both points of view. No head-hopping, though; this has to be done smoothly. And so at the same time that I’m attempting to find my own voice, I am developing these two separate, very distinct, voices that appeared out of nowhere–another challenge in the craft of writing. I have to say, it’s so much easier to work on these in a new piece of fiction than it is to go back and fix what I already have; starting fresh is a relief, and affords me more opportunities for creativity and experimentation.

Meanwhile, the writing exercise…the paragraph of narrative I’d intended to jot down and then re-visit at a later date is turning into a short story. I have no idea what to do with it, however; if it ends as I think it will, the only way it can, there is no HEA (happily ever after). So no romantic anthologies will want it. There’s sex, somewhat explicit, so that lets out a lot of typical short story venues. I think it will finish at about 5000 words, so it’s too short for some erotica sites. I will have to explore this further.

Right now, I need to return, because they are calling me back. I sort of left them hanging last night, after 2300 words, and they’re a little…anxious, shall we say? And truth be told I’m rather anxious myself, to finish their story, so I can get back to the novel.

Is this what it’s like to be a writer, then? To constantly struggle with the many scenes, the characters, the plot ideas in my head? Forming a sort of triage arrangement, deciding who gets attention first, and who needs to wait their turn, impatiently, in a corner of my mind? I picture it as the waiting room in the movie “Beetlejuice.” Where’s the witch doctor?


About Kerrie Strong

Years ago, I chose to suppress my creative side in favor of a career (or two, or three) in science. This blog is filled with exercises intended to reverse the atrophy of my right brain. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.
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5 Responses to Show and Tell

  1. lauriekozlowski says:

    Kerrie, thanks for joining “A Writer’s Journey” on FB and sharing a link to your blog. Very brave of you to publish and share it with us, if only as a small group. Great idea about starting a blog to encourage your writing. I am doing the same thing, but mine is a little more random than this with updates on my writing and life sprinkled in. I would love for you to stop by sometime. 🙂 I am wondering how the meeting with your writing group went. I want to do that too, but my stomach knots at the thought. Facing criticism online is different than being face to face with people and interacting directly. It kind of gives me the impression of facing a firing squad or having my neck out at the mercy of a guillotine. I am going to follow your blog, and hope we can be great friends. The sea of ideas are big, and many bigger fish may lead, but I like to think of myself as Dory from Finding Nemo “Just keep swimming.” (or writing in our case).

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Laurie! I will definitely come and check yours out. As time goes on, I am sure this will have more of my life included; how can it not? As it is, I already worry whether too much will be shared. Ah, well.

      The Meetup is this Wednesday; I will certainly post when I come home. 🙂

    • Laurie, I visited your blog but no posts show up. Have you blogged, or is this just an issue I’m having? Thanks!

  2. Lovely blog, Kerrie. I love the idea of talking about your creative side. I’ll be visiting, often. : )

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