Wrestling with Show v. Tell

We love stories. Sit in any critique group for longer than 10 minutes and you’ll hear the phrase “Show, Don’t Tell.”  While it is true that all stories mix and balance showing and telling, the best yarns that keep us turning the page show characters acting, feeling, and responding. It’s not that you never tell. Sometimes, writers have to tell us that Jack climbed up the hill.

Telling has a place in storytelling. As readers, we don’t need to be told every tiny detail, particularly when it involves a mundane activity that doesn’t move the story forward, build tension, or impact the outcome of the story. Good writers use telling to share secondary information. For example, you can write “Jill drove to work.” You don’t want to spend sentences, let alone paragraphs, sharing every detail of Jill’s drive to work. That would be less gripping than watching outdoor paint dry on a rainy day. Save your details for revealing significant plot twists or scene descriptions. When you need to be clear and precise, tell.

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Showing builds intimacy between the reader and your characters. It helps us get in their head and peak inside their soul. Showing reveals a piece of your character’s heart. Showing builds tension and makes your reader curious to find out more. Done right, you’ll have your reader salivating like Pavlov’s dog.

A brief example of showing:

Mom sobbed as I stood at the edge of my father’s hospital bed. “Dad, do you know who I am?”

The man who I’d once considered invincible shot me a blank stare. “No. Who are you?” He glanced over at my mom, kneeling at his bedside. “Who is he?”

Deafening silence filled the room. I could hear my heart thump. In that moment, I realized that the anger I thought I’d let go still raged deep inside me. We had our share of disagreements, the old man and me. Now, I was the only one able to keep score.

“Dad, it’s me. Your son.”

Nothing but a glazed stare returned my plea.

Mom rose from the floor, pressed her hand on my shoulder, “He’ll remember you. You’ll see. He’ll get better. You can’t keep a good man down.”

My eyes welled up, my hands balled up in fists. Good man?  The man who’d once been my hero quit being a good man years ago.

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Good writing leans in favor of showing, sparing the telling for those things that can only be told. A great sentence doesn’t come easy. Writing riveting paragraphs demands effort. We only get better at writing by sitting down and hammering out words on our laptop’s keyboard. There are no shortcuts to becoming a good writer. What are you waiting for?

Get writing!

 

Writing After 50: You Can Do It!

You have been hammering out stories since you were a young whippersnapper fresh out of diapers, but you do not have much to show for it. Sure, you have had the odd success here and there, but that Great American Novel you were projecting to finish by the time you turned 27 didn’t happened.

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Your life has sped past 50 and the pedal is grinding metal. You can see more years in your rearview mirror than are waiting over the horizon. You ponder chunking your notebooks in the fireplace and lighting a match. Perhaps the stack of finished, semi-finished, and unfinished manuscripts hiding in your closet need to meet Mister Shredder. If you’re over 50 aren’t you too old to do anything, much less publish a book?

NO!

Writing demands discipline—stick-to-it-ness—as much as it requires talent. In our day and age, it’s natural to be skeptical, if not downright cynical, especially about writing. Yet, there are more outlets for writing than ever before in the history of mankind. Let’s face it: publishing your Great American Novel ain’t gonna happen just ‘cos you sit there wishin’ it would.

  • Bram Stoker published Dracula after he turned 50.
  • Raymond Chandler’s published his first novel, The Big Sleep, at the ripe-old age of 51. He went on to publish six more novels during his lifetime.
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe’s debut novel, first hit the bookstores when he was 59.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first Little House on the Prairie book at age 65. She kept writing until her late 70s.
  • Angela’s Ashes, a memoir written by Frank McCourt, debuted when he turned 66.

These are just a small handful of examples of the writing life striking gold after age 50. Not published yet? Your Great American Novel still stashed in assorted folders strewn across your desk? Don’t give up. Keep writing! You can do it!

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Uncovering Key Social Media Insights for Writers

A social media presence is helpful to writers who want to sell their books and grow their audience.  The advent and infestation of social media in every crevice of our society puts some people on edge. For others, social media is a no-brainer and as natural as three meals and a cot. How does social media benefit you as a writer?
First, social media platforms increase your marketing reach by exposing your work. You can gain new readers and influence more people to buy your book through using social media.
Let’s look at some recent statistics compiled by the researchers at Hootsuite.
  • Almost 3.2 billion use social media on a regular basis. People are trotting around staring at their mobile devices. Over five billion users access their social media on-the-go.
  • Every second, 11 new people begin using social media. Americans spend about 2 hours per day checking their feeds and posting updates. The average American user employs 3 major social media platforms.
  • 93% of businesses expect to increase their social media advertising spending in 2018. Globally, social media advertising budgets doubled from 2014 to 2016.

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So what are the most effective social media platforms for authors to consider? Let’s take a gander at five of the most popular social media platforms currently in use.
Instagram:
  • More than 800 million monthly active users.
  • The total number of global Instagram users increased by 1/3 over 2017.
  • Generally, a younger audience with 60% of active users falling in the 18-34 age group.
  • 60% of users engage daily.
  • Users also use Facebook and Pinterest.
  • Over 300 million accounts use Instagram Stories daily.
Facebook:
  • The total number of users has grown to over 2.2 billion users in 2018.
  • .Users over 65 have increased by 20% in the past twelve months.
  • Almost half of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook.
  • Users watch over 100 million hours of video every day.
  • The highest Return on Investment is Facebook, according to 96% of social media experts.
Twitter:
  • Twitter users are loyal.
  • Twitter has more touts more than 330 million active users.
  • Roughly 46% of Twitter users access the platform daily.
  • Every day, users send 500 million tweets.
  • Individuals holding a college degree are more likely to use Twitter.
  • Almost 75% of users get at least a part of their news from Twitter.
YouTube:
  • More than 1.5 billion people use YouTube monthly.
  • “YouTube” is the second-most popular search query worldwide.
  • Roughly 45% of YouTube users access the platform daily.
  • 11% of YouTube’s audience is over 65, making it a prime social media platform to reach seniors.
  • YouTube users watch more than a billion hours of video per day.
Pinterest:
  • Half of all Millenials engage Pinterest every month.
  • 1/3 of Pinterest users live in suburbs.
  • A visual medium, Pinterest provides sources of inspiration and a great way to sell.
  • 55% of Pinterest users shop on the platform.
  • According to research, every $1 dollar spent on Pinterest yields a $4.30 return, and $2 in profit. This gives Pinterest a higher ROI than Facebook.

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Each of the platforms have their own unique perks. YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest are the more visual. People still post tons of images on Facebook. You will also find images and videos on LinkedIn and Twitter, but with less frequency. Social media has changed the way we communicate and relate to others. It has revolutionized how we shop, market, advertise, and persuade. Knowing how to use social media to sell books and influence others is a valuable asset for writers.
Happy Writing!
Source(s). Hootsuite (2018). A Long List of Social Media Statistics that You Need to Know in 2018. Hootsuite.com.