I’m in the beginning of the second draft of my new novel Arroyo. While keeping the characters, much of the setting and some of the plot intact, I am completely changing the way the novel will be presented. Hopefully that will fix what I hated when I read through this section about a month ago. If not, then I guess I’ll scrap the first section and begin with section two.
SHOW, DON’T TELL is pretty much the cardinal rule of writing fiction. Sometimes you find a novel you enjoy the hell out of, and most of it is the author telling you what happened. But most of the time you want to see the action unfold in front of your eyes. I tried to explain the difference to someone at a writer’s workshop a couple of years ago. It can be hard to understand.
This is an example of Show: He very carefully moved Marcia out of his arms and stood her behind him. They had the picnic table between them and the bull. He felt Marcia stand on her toes to look over his shoulder. She froze.
This is an example of Tell: Tanned skin the color of dirt, a weather-worn face crisscrossed by tiny lines at the mouth and eyes, untidy, nondescript hair crammed underneath a floppy, unbecoming and stained hat, and a wiry, long body—that was Cassie Lennon at age thirty-five.
Both examples from The Cowboy’s Baby by Gretchen Lee Rix copyrighted 2010.
There is a place for both showing the story and telling the story in each novel; you just want to be careful about leaning too much towards just “telling”.
With Arroyo there is no real deadline for me to meet. Except!!!!!!!! I have been named one of the featured authors for the 2011 Evening With the Authors event in Lockhart, Texas. This is for The Cowboy’s Baby. I’m deluding myself into thinking there’s a possibility I could have Arroyo polished, finished and published by that time. Then I’d have two books to sell. Not going to happen. It’s more important to have Arroyo perfect than to have it out at a certain time. By the way, I’ve been invited to participate because I’m a local writer and I’m active in the community—a lot of people know who I am; but they like my book, too.
WHAT I’VE READ THIS WEEK–That Certain Spark by Cathy Hake.
Photos by Roxanne Rix