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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Twitter Writetip and EditTip #6

This is the 6th edition of my Twitter writetip collections. For those of you who are not familiar, I tweet short writing tips on Twitter from time to time. Some people do miss the tweets, so I put them together and post them on my blog every 2 weeks. I hope you find them helpful. If you have a general question about writing or editing, you can post a comment here. If you have a manuscript/query letter & synopsis/blog posts/short stories editing and beta reading service question, visit my editor website or email me at sirraedits@gmail.com. Thanks~


Another cliche I can do without. "Silence is deafening." No, it's not. So stop using it.#writetip #amediting
It's like this book is a treasure trove of cliches. "Beating around the bush" Unless your MC is actually doing it, don't use it!! #writetip
"Hello." She said. <--Nooo! "Hello," she said. <--Yes!! Please take note.#writetip
Unless it's action. Like this. "No." She stabbed.#writetip
Beta readers: Be helpful. Be prompt. Finish. Writers: Don't be douchey. Say thank you even if you don't agree. Manners, folks. #stabbylove
Just a quick #writetip If you plan to query your book in U.S. you must have 3 different length synopsis. 1 page, 2-3 page, and 5 page.
Don't use ( ) or text lingo/abbreviation in dialogue. No one talks that way. Ex: "I lol so much btw b/c it was so (funny)." Crazy! #writetip
Writers often read outside of their genre. Reading is good but you must read your own genre especially if audience age differs.#writetip
Writing exercise. Take a page out of your WIP and rewrite in different POV and tense. It's a great way to get the juice flowing! #writetip
Some of your run-on sentences are too long. Read it aloud. You'll realize it when your face turns blue from lack of oxygen. #writetip
Lunch break from #amediting Writers. Using fancy words doesn't make your books intelligent. The plot does. Focus on better plots! #writetip
Use Past Perfect Tense only when necessary. Ex: "I have had a lot of experience." is so passive. "I'm experienced." sounds better. #writetip
Don't overuse past perfect (ex: have had). Try to use it in flashbacks (real past) only. It can make your writing so passive. #writetip
If you have a modifier (word/clause/phrase) at the beginning of the sentence, it must modify the very next word (subject). #writetip
Writers! If you start w/ an introductory phrase like "In conclusion" "Finally" "In my mind" Put a comma right after it. #writetip #amwriting

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Show VS. Tell in Fiction

Every writer I know has either heard or learned about “showing” in creative writing. When the readers pick up a book, it’s the plot and the voice of the protagonist that hook them. After all, those are the key elements in fiction. However, if the writing is telling and passive, the story falls flat. The readers are less likely to continue reading if the book becomes a tedious task. That goes for other issues such as grammar and typos, but I’m going to focus on showing vs. telling in this post. I’ve listed examples and good and bad in dialogue and narration. 
Showing in dialogue
Bad:
“I want you to stay inside!” exclaimed Mom angrily as she walked up to her.
“No! I don’t want to,” argued Jenny sarcastically as she smiled coyly. “You can’t make me,” replied Jen calmly. 
First, let’s take a look at the redundant and telling (summarizing) dialogue tags. “Exclaimed” isn't necessary when there’s an exclamation mark. "Replied" is also redundant because it’s clear that she is replying to her. Use “said” instead. The adverbs angrily, sarcastically, and coyly just summarize instead of describing the action that could show the readers. 
Here is a reminder. Dialogue tags are linking verbs that connect the dialogue to the rest of the sentence. Their main purpose is to identify the speaker. They should not be used to sum up emotions of the speaker. Actions in conjunction with a vivid, self-explanatory dialogue should convey emotions. Hence, there isn’t a need for any tags unless you need to clarify who’s doing the talking.
Good:
“Jen, you’re not going anywhere.” She pulled her face within inches of Jenny’s. Her voice shook as it reached a peak. “And that’s an order.”
“Make me.” A coy smiled spread across her lips. She raised her brows revealing the glint in her eyes. “If not, I’ll be going out now as planned. Hope you don’t mind.”
Here, notice the lack of dialogue tags. Why? The dialogue itself tells us who the speaker is. Instead of telling us that mom was angry and screaming, the descriptions show us her movements along with the change in her voice. 
Also, Jenny’s dialogue is self-explanatory. It’s clear that she’s being sarcastic. That is supported by the description of her facial expression. Notice that the adverb “coyly” was converted to the adjective “coy.” The difference, in this sentence, is that the adjective strengthens the verb while the adverb “coyly” was just summing up her entire emotion/facial expression.
Showing in narration
Bad: She dropped the coin on the floor. She bent down to pick it up. She got back up fast. She was happy because she even laughed a little.
This is too elementary, repetitious, and obviously telling. Also, this only tell us about her movements and her feeling, not much else.
Good: The wispy bang fell over her forehead as she bent forward. She glanced at the coin hiding underneath the corner of the desk. Her fingers skidded along the white-titled floor and immediately snatched it up. It felt cold to the touch. With the coin secured in her palm, she straightened her posture on her way back up. The corner of her mouth lifted at the corners revealing her pearly whites. Finally. It was about time she's done something right, and she did it without making another goofy mistake. She chuckled. 
First, there is no overuse of adverbs and adjectives. Second, the adverbs/adjectives used was a part of action description. A good description convey the emotion/action by using all five senses so that the reader can have a vivid image in their minds. Choose an alternative start to each sentence to avoid being repetitious. Also, mixing it up by using various-length and differently structured sentences help avoid repetition and give the writing an even flow. 
I hope this post made showing vs. telling easy to comprehend. The examples I’ve used may not have been the best, but I think they did the job nonetheless. Thanks for stopping by, and if you need professional editing service, please click here.