June 11th, 2015

ISeeYou2

Writing Excuses 10.23: Can You Tell Me How to Show?

Writing Excuses 10.23: Can You Tell Me How to Show?

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/06/07/writing-excuses-10-23-can-you-tell-me-how-to-show/

Key points: How can you use the right words to evoke an image in the reader's mind? Use the character's POV, let their emotions color the words they use. Showing takes more words, so know whether you want to use a paragraph or a page. Use words, pacing, to create an emotion, to create tension. Use punctuation and grammar to reflect natural pauses. Create tone and mood through the length of your sentences. Watch "suddenly" -- it delays. Just saying it is more jarring. Pay attention to what the character would focus on, and use that to introduce the scene. Pay attention to the first thing you mention, and the last thing you linger on. Think about how evocative you want your prose to be -- sparse or flowery? Match your audience, the genre expectations, and the characters. Make your descriptions do multiple things at once. Remember, POV means seeing the world through the eyes of a particular character. 
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[Brandon] It does. Our writing exercise this week is doing actually exactly this.
[Mary] So what I want you to do is I want you to sit in a room. Any room you want to be in. I want you to describe the room. I want you to do this for half an hour. About five, maybe 10 minutes into it, you'll probably think, "Mary, I hate you. I can't possibly describe anything else." If you keep going, what's going to start happening is that you will start noticing the little details. A lot of times, those little telling details are the things that make a room very specific. So this is an exercise I actually still do all the time myself. What you will eventually train yourself to notice the little details first. So, having done that... That's 30 minutes of writing. Now what I want you to do is describe the exact same room, but describe it as if it is in a specific genre style of fiction. So maybe it's a film noir... It's noir. Maybe it's sci...
[Brandon] Epic fantasy.
[Mary] Epic fantasy.
[Howard] Police procedural.
[Mary] Police procedural. Romance. Take a specific genre and try to describe the exact same room, trying to evoke that genre. Then... You don't have to do it for 30 minutes this time. You can just do 250 words.
[Howard] Make it a scene.
[Mary] Not a scene, because we're just thinking about description. Then the last go around is that I want you to describe the same room again, but in your gen... In the genre of the story that you are working on.
[Brandon] And from the viewpoint of one of your characters.
[Mary] Yes. From the viewpoint of... Preferably your point of view... One of your point of view characters. See what you can do. See how differently those descriptions wind up being.
[Brandon] Wow. That's going to be a great exercise. You guys should totally do that. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses. Now go write.
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