Monday, February 17, 2014

A Step in the Write Direction--February 17, 2014--Show, Don't Tell

A Step in the Write Direction
February 17, 2013

Update: A happy birthday to our oldest child, our son, today. Hard to believe he’s already 52. Where do the years go?...Had a good time Friday teaching a 3-hour editing workshop to a nearby writing group in Ft. Hills, Arizona, then chatting with them at lunch afterwards….Something I’ve decided: I never will get caught up on my work. Right now I have a 336-page novel to edit, a 144-page book to proofread (by tomorrow) and 7 devotionals to write by March 1. But I’m thankful for the work (and also thankful for 3 birthday parties this last month to force me to clean the house!)…Write me at for a list of tax deductions for writers, and also if you’d like a copy of 100-Plus Motivational Moments for Writers and Speakers, a book of devotionals written by writers, with room for you to write your thoughts at the end of each. Regular price $9.95, but I bought out the inventory from the publisher and am selling them for $5, plus $3 s&h. An inspirational book to have in your library or to give as a gift.

Thought for the Day: “I do not know the nature of your regret, and  you do not know mine, but I do know that there is no burden too heavy for God, no ego too grand for God, no trough of regret too low for God. I do know that there is absolutely nothing about you or about me that is beyond God’s capacity to redeem” (Joanna M. Adams, “Clean Up Your Act,” Journal for Preachers, Advent, 2013, 32).

Laugh for the Day: A teen-aged boy drove his rattletrap car up to a toll booth on a highway. The toll collector said, “75 cents.” “Sold!” the boy said. (Jokes—Hours and Hours of Great Laughs, Compiled by Michael J. Pellowski, New York: Playmore, Inc. Publishers, p. 158).

Song for the Day:
My Jesus, as Thou wilt. All shall be well for me;
Each changing, future scene I gladly trust leave with Thee.
Straight to my home above, I travel calmly on,
And sing in life or death, “My Lord, Thy will be done.”
            (“My Jesus, as Thou Wilt, Benjamin Schmolck)

Writer’s Tips (Show, Don’t Tell):
*          Which is better?  "The giant looked around the room. When he saw the boy, he got angry
and bellowed a threat    to eat him." Or, "Fee, fi, fo, fum.  I smell the blood of an
Englishman.  Be he alive, or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread." 
(“The Fiction-Writer's Polish Kit, Judith Ross Enderle & Stephanie Gordon Tessler.
 Writer's Digest, May 1986, pp. 29-30.)

*          Don't just say a person is fat.  Show it! Show her out of breath while climbing steps, her face red, sweating, a button popped off her dress, or a rip under the sleeve.

*          “The first time she met her mother-in-law, Jemma couldn’t believe her hair and the outfit she wore. But after she grew to know her, these things didn’t matter” (dg), or:
“When she first met her mother-in-law, Jemma had blinked in surprise at the older woman’s reddish, flyaway hair and her eccentric costume—zebra-striped Spandex pants with a black gauze peasant blouse, right out of the seventies. But Jemma soon learned that Claire’s heart was as lavish and generous as her flamboyant clothing.” (“Get to Know Your Characters,” by Gail Gaymer Martin, The Christian Communicator, September 2001, p. 17.)

*          My grandmother was a spunky woman. (Show us.)

*          "He was a bushy-haired, massive man. What color hair? How massive? What did he weigh? Did he tower over someone? How tall? (To my husband who is only four foot ten, “tall” could be five feet six inches.  Paint a picture your reader can see in his/her mind.

*          Don't just say a character is beautiful. That’s your opinion!  Describe her so thoroughly that the reader will say, “She must be beautiful.”

*          Same with, “It was a beautiful day.” This means different things to different people. What does a beautiful day mean to you? To my friend Kathy, a boat ride to the Isle of Skye with the wind and rain in our faces was “beautiful.”

            Or, “The meal was scrumptious.” It’s okay if this is in dialogue; otherwise, it’s just your opinion.

*          “When Ashley got home from school she told her mother that her friends were shunning her.” How?  Use some dialogue with her mother. Give an example. Does she pass them in the hallway and say “hi” and they don’t answer? Do they whisper behind her back? Do they not invite her to any of their activities? Do they not save a place for her in the cafeteria?


            (More next week.)
 Have a good week spreading the
gospel through the printed page.

Donna Clark Goodrich

"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"
"The Freedom of Letting Go"
"Healing in God's Time"

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