Tag Archives: show don’t tell

Stay Tuned

I have been soooo consumed with life lately and my blog has suffered. Plus, my two-year old stepped on my laptop and cracked it. Anyway, I will be returning soon with an author interview that I’m very excited about.

Sorry for the absence. What’s a writer to do when life becomes extremely hectic?

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Writing About Love Giveaway

Happy Valentines Day! Love, aah yes, it’s what makes the world go around. We all look for it, give it, receive it and would have a hard time living without it. Love is a writer’s friend. If you are a writer then chances are you have written about love.

Today is a good day to write. It is a day of observation. Take the time to focus on what emotions are being displayed. Is there a co-worker that is in a terrible mood because her and her significant other called it quits and today she has no valentine?

Did you witness flowers being delivered to an unsuspecting person? How did they respond?

I’m willing to bet that every novel written has some element of love within its pages. It can be materialistic love, sibling love, romantic love, love of power, platonic love or unconditional. Love is not just mushy. It can be the root to violence, insecurities, and betrayal.

Today’s post is a writing exercise. It has two parts.

First Part- Take one of your favorite novels down from the shelf and begin exploring the pages. Where did the author write about love? What type of scene did they create? How did you feel after reading their words? Did anything about their words inspire you?

Second Part- Create your own love scene. Remember it doesn’t have to be sunshine, rainbows, kisses and hugs. It could be storms, rocky roads and sacrifice.

Writing Prompt: Lexie stepped off of the train (What does Lexie stepping off of a train have to do with love? Was she meeting up with the guy she left everything for? Was she returning home to tend to a sick parent? Was she following her dreams?)

You could go anywhere with one sentence. What the heck let me see where you take this and you might win a surprise. I’m in the mood for a giveaway.

Make me feel love in 100 words or less and you may be a winner.

Because this giveaway was spontaneous I do not yet know what the gift will be but I promise it will be well thought out.

Love and Kisses xoxoxoxo

Maribeth

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Is Writing a State of Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a mental state (according to “state theory”) or imaginative role-enactment (according to “non-state theory”).

After researching hypnosis for my current work in progress (I’m really excited about this one) I have come to my own conclusion about the writing process. I believe that writers enter a hypnotic state when they are creating their written work.
Really think about where your mind goes when you write. Are you at your computer or are you far away in another land? Your body is one place but your mind is wherever it is that you take it. An interruption to a writer is just like a hypnotist snapping his finger in front of the face of the person being hypnotized.
I can only speak for myself when I say that interruptions drive me crazy, especially when I am in “the zone”. It’s not because I don’t want to talk to the person who is calling or tend to the child who needs me, it’s that I know how hard it can be to slip back into that frame of mind.
Writers block may be the inability to drift into that hypnotic state where magical lands exist and memorable characters walk. It might be that the writer with “writers block” is unable to detach their selves from the reality they are living in and enter the world they need to in order to create.
Have you ever caught yourself staring at an object but realized it was not the object that you were thinking about? Anytime our mind takes a stroll, we are in state of hypnosis. Did you ever read through your work and ask yourself “Where did I pull that from?”
Writers write under hypnosis then hypnotize readers with their words. When I count to three you will be out of my world and back into yours, 1…2…3…

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I’m I a writer and I’m Thankful for…


Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of today, I am going to list everything I am thankful for as far as writing goes. I’d love to hear what my fellow writers are thankful for, so please feel free to leave a comment so we can compare.

1. I am thankful for being able to recognize that my passion in life is writing.

2. I am thankful for my fellow writers. I have connected with so many wonderful authors that have given me critiques, offered me support and provided me with inspiration. I truly believe that a writer cannot become a great writer without the help of other writers.

3. I am thankful for agents. I do not have an agent as of yet (hopefully that will be changing soon) but I appreciate all of the work they do for authors. A good agent will help a writer gain recognition, cut a book deal and set the path for a great journey.

4. I am thankful for the internet. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and WordPress have introduced me to talented individuals who I might have never had a chance to meet.

5. I am thankful for The Institute of Children’s Literature. The courses I took with the ICL educated me on the craft of writing and encouraged me to believe in myself and the stories I tell. I am also thankful for the two wonderful instructors Melissa Stewart and Kevin McColley who taught me how to show not tell, write with emotion, set up a manuscript and edit my work (plus so much more).

6. I am thankful for publishers. The publishers are the kings of the writing jungle. The publishers make the writers dreams become reality. I’m thankful that they believe in the written word and work hard every day to keep writers writing and readers reading.

7. I’m thankful for the people who love to read. Without the readers there would be no use for the writers.

8. I am thankful for the gifts of creativity and imagination.

9. I am thankful for informative sites such as Query Tracker, Writer’s Digest, Guide to Literary Agents and any other site or blog that offers assistance to writers.

10. I am thankful for libraries and book stores.

I’m sure there are a dozen more things that I can add but for now that concludes my list. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Eat, write, and be merry, for tomorrow your dreams may come true.

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THE ART OF OBSERVING

Have you ever been in a situation where you catch another person looking you up (or down) from head to toe? Your first thought is probably something like “What is she (or he) looking at?” This is the exact thing a writer must do in order to create characters, develop scenes and incorporate details. Imagine if every book you read had only a plot? What if there was no character description, no setting imagery or no sounds mentioned? I think you would agree that most readers would find the book BORING. It is the incorporation of a writer’s observation that brings a book to life. A dark haired man is bland. A dark haired man with a receding hairline, beer gut and a tattered white t-shirt adorned with sweat soaked arm pits becomes interesting (or disgusting). A scene where a girl sits by herself on a bench in a park isn’t much of anything. Adding detail to the scene gives the reader a visual and helps bring them into the life the writer created. E.g. A teenage girl sits on a spray painted park bench under an oak tree and notices a large groups of kids huddled around the basketball court watching grown men play a game of hoops. The reader can now envision the setting because of the addition of minor details, such as the spray painted bench, the oak tree and the basketball game.
If you are a writer think of yourself as a sponge. Everything around you should be soaked up.
If you want to master the art of observing you must do the following.

*Wherever you are take in the sounds. Practice closing your eyes and assimilate all that is audible. How many sounds throughout the day do you ignore because they have become too common? E.g. Birds chirping, horns beeping, sirens, dogs barking etc.

*Watch the Activity. Try sitting in a highly active place (restaurant, park, casino, sports arena, concert, etc.) and write down what is happening around you. What is the waitress doing? Is there a child sliding down a slide for the first time? Are there groups of people listening to music in the parking lot prior to the concert they are anxiously waiting for?
*Pay attention to emotions. Does the gambler look excited or frustrated? Weddings, funerals and sporting events are great for observing emotions.

*Watch for mannerisms. Mannerisms as I have discussed in previous posts make characters relatable. Does the young waitress have a habit of licking her lips? Does the lead singer jump up and down before the start of a new song? Is the football player known for blessing himself before he leaves the huddle?

*Don’t forget about nature. Nature is free art. Getting in touch with nature may sound corny to some but it is a must for a writer.

*Watch the animals. Don’t ignore the birds that chirp on the telephone wire, dismiss the squirrels that scurry up the tree or fail to pay attention to the neighborhood cat. They all can add to a scene.

*Make note of a person’s sense of style. Do they have a flair that begs to be imitated? Do they appear sloppy looking? Is their pants one size too small or two sizes too big? All of this can be used for character building.

*Check out the atmosphere. Make it a point to scan your surroundings. If you are in a friend’s home look at their décor for inspiration. What unique things do they have that can add depth to a scene. Does your favorite restaurant have booths or tables covered in linen?

Promise yourself that this week you will take time to really observe. Soak in your surroundings. But, remember that too much detail can be overkill and turn a reader off. Find a way to add your observations in a non obvious way.

What observations have I missed that you think are important?
Where do you like to go to observe?

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If Linus Could Wait, So Can I

Happy Halloween! Halloween stirs up memories for me. I like to reminisce about being a young girl anticipating this once of year fantastical event. Sure, there were the costumes, the candy and the trick or treating, but most of all there was the Charlie Brown Halloween special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. I looked forward to seeing the Peanuts crew dressed in costume, celebrating the joy the holiday brought. I rooted for Linus and believed every year (even though I knew the outcome) that the Great Pumpkin would come. Today, as I reflected on my Halloween Pasts, I came to the realization that I am now Linus. I am sitting in a pumpkin patch (okay maybe it’s a room within my house that I like to call my “writing room”) waiting for the great pumpkin (an agent) to show and prove everyone who never thought it (or she or he) would come wrong. I have created characters much like children do on Halloween and rang doorbells (okay, sent e-mails) in hopes that the person on the other side would fill my treat bag with goodies. When no one answered the door (e-mail) I became like Linus and waited and waited (still waiting) and refused to believe that the Great Pumpkin (great agent) was going to be a no show.
Linus was convinced that once he left, the pumpkin would show. Aren’t writers a lot like Linus? We are sitting in the middle of a field of writers waiting to be discovered (I know, Linus wasn’t waiting to be discovered but still he was waiting for something he believed in.) We have to be patient like Linus. Wasn’t it another fairytale that a pumpkin turned into a coach and escorted a certain princess to a ball? I believe my pumpkin will come and bring magical things. Do you?

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A Few Things I’ve Learned

Sometime around ten years ago I declared myself a writer. At the time of declaration I thought being a writer simply meant you wrote stories. I did not realize what needed to be learned before others would view me as a writer. Today, I have been racking my brain for interesting blog ideas. There are so many blogs out there regarding the craft of writing that it is hard (not impossible) to think of a topic that has not already been done. So, I thought why not go back to that girl in her twenty’s who knew virtually nothing about the craft and tell her some key facts she will need to know in order for her writing to be taken seriously. Here is what I remember learning early on. Please leave a comment and share with us what you remember learning.
*Show Don’t Tell –Eg. Caren was mad. (this is telling). Caren threw her book bag across the floor and slammed the door behind her. (This is showing)
* Pov’s- 1rst Person Point of View (A character narrates the story. Their use of speech would include the words I-me-mine.
2nd Person Point of View (rare) the author would use you or your as if they were directly addressing the reader.
3rd Person Point of View- Writing in 3rd person means you only know the thoughts of one character. If your main character is Edmond you can write about how Edmond feels. You are writing as if you are looking through Edmond’s eyes.
Eg. Edmond’s heart longed for the girl Stella once was. (You can write this because Edmond is your main character). You cannot write Edmond looked at Stella and his heart tugged and then in the next sentence write Stella knew Edmond was looking at her but she refused to look back.(Stella is not your main character so you would not know what Stella felt or thought.) Unless you were writing in 3rd person-omniscient (this is when the author decides to open up the thoughts of all the characters to the readers). I like the idea of this but I think you would really have to master it in order to get positive feedback.
*Formatting – Most agents, editors and publishers prefer that your manuscript be double-spaced, using Times New Roman in 12pt font. (Don’t think you will make yourself stand out in a good way by using something different.)
*Query Letters, Cover Letters, Bio’s and Synopsis
Query Letters – Brief letter to agent or editor consisting of a short hook, (eg. A short sentence that draws them in and hopefully tempts them to want to read more), a brief overview of what your book is about (Eg. Edmond and Stella have known each other since the sixth-grade. When Stella starts hanging out with the known druggies, Edmond fears he will lose her forever and decides to develop a plan to save her.) Close your query letter by adding your qualifications or experiences (Publishing credits, schooling, memberships etc).
Cover Letters- A cover letter should accompany a manuscript. This letter will provide an overview of your submission. If an agent or editor request material, your cover letter is where you would remind them that this is being sent because it was requested. Eg., Thank you for requesting Edmond and Stella etc, etc.
Synopsis- A complete description of your work in which the entire book is conveyed compactly. You can write a one or two paragraph synopsis or a chapter by chapter synopsis (check the agent or editor’s specifications before sending)
Bio – A very brief summary of who you are. Practice summing yourself up in fifty words or less.
This blog could go on and on and on (I didn’t even touch, story structuring, grammar, the importance of critique groups etc.)
For now I will end this blog but promise to continue posting things I have learned. I am still learning, which is exactly why I love the craft as much as I do. We can’t become experts if we refuse to admit there are lessons to be taught. Our journeys are different but we all encounter the same lessons along the way.
What did you not know early on?

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