Friday, February 14, 2014

Guest blog author K.F. Breene talks about Showing Vs Telling for Indie Authors

There's a special feature here today. Paranormal romance author K.F. Breene is sharing about what every writer hears: showing versus telling.

This stop is just one of many as she tours her novel, Into the Darkness, with Goddess Fish Promotions.

As part of her tour, K.F. will be awarding one lucky commenter a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and enter there, too.

A little bit about Into the Darkness:
I’d always been different. I saw objects in the night where others saw emptiness. Large, human shaped shadows, fierce yet beautiful, melting into the darkness. I collected secrets like other women collected bells; afraid to fully trust lest my oddities be exposed.

Until I saw him. He’d been gliding down the street, unshakable confidence in every step. It wasn’t just that he was breathtakingly handsome with perfect features. Something about him drew me. Sucked my focus to him and then tugged at my body. As his eyes met mine, I was entrapped.

No one had noticed him. He’d been right there, just beyond the light, but only I had perceived.

I had to know if he was real. Or maybe I really was crazy. And even when my secret box was blasted wide open, dangers hurled at me like throwing knives, I couldn’t stop until I unraveled his true identity.

I just had to know.

“She was fated to live.”
“Then why must you save her?”
“Often Fate is struck down by dumb luck.”

An excerpt from Into the Darkness:
As I met his black eyes, his puzzled expression deepened. “You’re human…”

“We established that, yes. What I want to know is, if I am human, what does that make you? And why do I notice you when others usually don’t?”

His head cocked to the side. His easy balance, his lethal edge; he was like a blade resting on billowing silk. “Very few humans are able to withstand our pheromones. Fewer still to break a Kolma once it has been placed. You’ve not been trained, that’s obvious, so how is this possible when you’re definitely human? Do you possess the blood of another species?”

I could barely think past the pounding ache of my body, begging to touch him. I needed to get a grip! He was revealing some very interesting factoids that I needed to jot down in my mental notebook.

His nostrils flared. “Charles was right; your arousal is a unique scent. Like a spicy, warm drink on a mid-winter’s night. It rises above other smells, entrancing the mind.”

And now for the feature!

Showing versus Telling; Why Many Indy Writers Don’t Make It

The biggest critique I have for Indy authors is telling the story instead of showing it. What does this mean?
Telling: It was a dark and stormy night.
Showing: Outside the wind howled. Rain slapped the windows in angry whips. Janice looked up from her desk with wide eyes, clutching her blanket around her tightly. Lightning cracked, momentarily illuminating wildly swaying tree branches punching at the cloud covered sky. A peal of thunder rumbled through the rafters, drowning out the surge and crash of the waves far below. (I just added the ocean element on a whim)
As a writer, writing “it was a dark and stormy night” is insanely easy. A short sentence requiring no visualization equals a quick write.
A great many (great, great many) Indy writers tell. Whole books are told. The character goes from one place to another. Does one thing. And then another. Meets a guy. Kills a dragon. Kisses the girl. The end.
The writer tells you all of this.
It is insanely boring.
My first drafts always have a lot of telling. I want to get ideas down so I can move on to the next thing. Telling, for me, basically serves as my outline. A quick, dirty place marker. The first revision is re-writing those areas.
Showing is way harder. It takes time, focus, and feeling. As a writer, you have to get involved. You “see” what’s going on. You feel it unfold. You also have to take longer to get it on paper. Look at the difference in length of the examples above—showing takes more words. When you want to just get the book written, you reach for telling.
The thing is, though, showing is not only great for the reader, it can act as a diving board for the author. The waves far below place Janice on a cliff. So now there’s a rolling, surging ocean, a house possibly precariously balanced on a cliff, and Janice, freaked out about the intensity of the storm. This is an interesting setting. What will happen?
Cue writer’s imagination.
Back to the reader—showing lets the reader fall in. The reader goes on a discovery. She visualizes right along with the writer. She is sitting there, in that house, as rain batters the window in angry sheets. It’s interesting. It keeps the reader involved, and an involved reader wants to turn the page.
You shouldn’t always show, of course. That’d take too long. Set the stage, and then use the stage. Give character reactions, but also keep the story moving.
In order to figure out when I’m doing more telling than showing, or when things aren’t working, I let my focus be the guide. On a revision, if my eyes glaze over, or I want to skim, there’s a problem. I stop, go back, and re-write. Often times I have no idea what the cause is, but I know something is making me lose interest. Re-write. I don’t generally have to lose everything in the problem area, but I need to expand on it. I need to add more feeling, or reaction, or setting.
Flip side: too much showing. (You can see now why this is such a hard thing to master, and what sets writers apart.)
Too many details. I get notes about this more often than anything. I picture it in my head, like a movie, and write down what I see. Sometimes I give too much. Readers have imaginations, too. You have to let them use their own creativity to fill in the blanks. Or sometimes they don’t care as much about the presence of a tire swing as the heat in the hero’s eyes. How can you tell? You, as a reader during a revision, get bored. At least, that’s how I know.
I’ve cut out almost entire chapters because the side story was taking too long. I just wanted the characters to have a little nooky. Or wanted some action. It’s like swiping a table out of the way to kiss the hero. That cut chapter was the proverbial table. I’ve lost humorous situations I absolutely loved, and worked hard on, because they took too long. At the end of the day, if you’re going to publish, you need to keep the reader in mind. The first draft is for you, the other drafts are for your readers.
All this is why many revisions are key. Either you already know this stuff and can do it in your sleep, or (if you’re an accountant moonlighting as a writer, like me) you need to do multiple revisions to figure out what doesn’t work, and fix it. Usually, for Indy writers, it’ll be that telling versus showing situation that sinks them. Not enough detail, and not enough sensory input. Put yourself in the character’s shoes, have a look around, and describe what you see and feel. This way, your reader will see and feel it, too. And that will keep them reading.

Author bio:
A wine country native, K.F. Breene moved to San Francisco for college just shy of a decade ago to pursue a lifelong interest in film. As she settled into the vibrant city, it quickly became apparent that, while she thought making and editing films was great fun, she lacked cinematic genius. For that reason, her career path quickly changed direction. Her next goal was a strange childhood interest, conjured at the dining room table while filling out a form. For some reason, her young self wanted to be an accountant. Thinking on it now, she often wonders how she had any friends. Regardless, it was the direction she finally took.

While she could wrangle numbers with the best of 'em, and even though she wore the crown as the most outspoken, belligerent accountant in the world, her mind got as stuffy as her daily routine. It was here that she dusted off her creative hat and began writing. Now she makes movies in her head, not worried about lighting, shutter speed or editing equipment. Turns out, a computer is much easier to manage than a crowd of actors. She should know, she was an actor at one time.


Buy links:
Amazon | iTunes | Barnes and Noble   
*Note: During the virtual book tour, the book is free through Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

MomJane said...

Like the excerpt, and it certainly is not a "tell" excerpt.

ilookfamous said...

This is such a good book!