Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Show Don't Tell...

I've recently had my eyes opened to lots of different things I do in my own writing. Things that, now that they have been pointed out to me, are much easier to spot.

One of the things I tend to do is show the reader what is happening rather than telling them. Things that are vital to a good story. I've recently come across a couple of books where showing and telling were very blatant. It made me frustrated while reading. In one instance, the author told the reader of dialogue happening but no dialogue ensued. It was really rather frustrating. So I'm being very careful now to make sure that I don't irritate my readers in this fashion.

Another thing I came across was point of view switches that happened in such rapid succession that it was very hard to keep up with the story in some places.

Its funny how, when working on these things myself, they crop up in other books more frequently. I'm glad I am taking on this task of re-working my books and gaining so much knowledge that I grow in my own writing. I think of all the advice I can give to authors out there who, after having faced numerous rejections, is to look at exactly what is being said about your work by others and fix it.

I've been so impatient at times I want to just throw my hands up in the air and say forget it, I'm going to self-publish. But what good will that do me? If I try to go the traditional route and get the feedback I need to grow and learn as a writer, I'm harming myself more than anything.

I have nothing against self publishers. I know several authors who have gone the route of traditional publishing, rejected over and over and who do follow the advice of others. Even after polishing their work to a blinding shine, they're still rejected and go the way of self-publishing and are very successful. So for some it has worked.

For me, though, I'm realizing more and more that I still have so much to learn that going the traditional way is what will teach me these things. I need the rejection and feedback to better myself. After that, who knows? But I am confident that I am learning quickly and will have no problem finding a home for my books. But only when the time is right.

So I hope those authors out there who have been so impatient as to just rush their diamond in the rough read this and think a bit longer and heed the advice given. Revise, edit, repeat!


Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Where telling and POV shifts subtly tilt our prose is in tags and direction. Where we want these to disappear, it is amazing how they can spring out at the reader.

Just a thought :o)


Sarah McCabe said...

I'm not convinced that traditional publishing can actually teach you anything worthwhile. It seems, these days, to just fetter you will a whole bunch of chains and cages. The thing is, it seems to me, that traditional publishing companies are much more concerned with profit than they are with the development of literature. They'll publish the idiotic cretins of the Jersey Shore but reject people with actual storytelling skills. I just don't trust them anymore.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Editors are the real teachers.
It's funny how we see stuff in other books we miss in our own, isn't it?

Mel Chesley said...

@Mac ~ True!

@Sarah~ You know, I do agree with you on that point. I guess the thing that is helping me the most is knowing I want my book to be the best it can be. So to follow the "traditional" route, for me, is helping me and my writing.
I have seen badly written books put out by traditional publishers as well... so maybe there is no escape? :D

@Alex~ Amen! I see this stuff in other books and then go back and look at my own. The fixes are becoming fewer, thank goodness. :D

Janet Johnson said...

Great advice, and SO true!

Jamie Gibbs said...

I'd always advocate traditional publishing as a route, and you're right, you get invaluable experience, knowledge and contacts during the process.