Me, Wally Lamb & the Moment It All Became Clear: Show vs. Tell

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You ever have one of those moments when you just ‘get’ something? When you fully understand something that was previously a novelty to you? Some people call it an epiphany. Oprah calls it an ‘A-ha moment’.  I had one while reading She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.

Both my editor and fellow writer/beta reader Ann Fields gave me this advice as part of their feedback for my first novel: show the story, don’t just tell it. I struggled to understand exactly what this meant. The phrase ‘show vs tell’ is thrown around in the writing community all willy-nilly and it’s pretty difficult to explain what it actually means.

She’s Come Undone is the best example of mastering show vs tell that I’ve ever read. The book somehow conveys that Delores is an obese, largely ignored, sexually repressed, sarcastically humorous, intelligent, scared girl. The writer doesn’t tell us this. He shows us by creating scenes in which other characters react to Delores, by giving us insight into her thought processes, by sharing her responses to outside stimuli.

She's come undon

Lamb’s style is dramatic, sensual and visual. We’re not told that Delores is cynical and prone to highlighting other people’s flaws. We’re shown it in the way she notices someone’s rounded belly, stained teeth or oily skin. Delores doesn’t simply take a swim with her father. We’re right there with her feeling the warmth of the pool, seeing the hazy colors of life underwater, experiencing a little girl’s crush for her father.

Reading She’s Come Undone made something click in the part of my brain that couldn’t quite grasp the difference between telling a story and showing a story unfolding. I think it’s important to have a balance between the two, but practicing the skill of showing will make me a much better writer.

The biggest takeaway for me is to not write down to readers. Trust their intelligence enough to believe that they’ll get the point. Relinquish enough creative control to leave room for various interpretations. Because really, that’s what art is.

I’d love to read more books by authors that have mastered the show vs tell balancing act, so if you have suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below. Special thanks to Kate Loveton for suggesting She’s Come Undone to me! I haven’t finished it yet, so no spoilers please. :)

As a writer, have you struggled with show vs. tell? How did you work through it? Here’s a great article on the show vs. tell debate. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

#WriterWednesday : 5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic by Faith Simone

Faith Simone:

A couple of weeks ago I was graciously hosted by fellow author Nigeria Lockley. I wrote a post for #WriterWednesday about 5 simple ways to increase your blog traffic. Although it isn’t Wednesday I thought I’d re-post it on my blog today. I hope you’re all coping with the time change better than I am. Where the coffee at?

Originally posted on Nigeria Lockley:

Have you been wondering how to make your blog work for you instead of you working for your blog? Have you racked your brain trying to figure out why your readers barely engage with the content you post? Well, today on #WriterWednesday the 2014 winner of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, Faith Simone ofAll Things Written to Inspire and Encourage is stopping by The Neophyte Author to steer us all in the write direction. 

5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic by Faith Simone

Blogging is not for the faint of heart, but it doesn’t have to be super difficult either. At its root, blogging is intended for two things: sharing a person’s personal thoughts on a variety of subjects and connecting with others. That’s it in a nut shell. But we all know that many folks use their blogs as a way to sell products, make…

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Guest Blogger: Mary A. Perez (This Thing Called Tears)

There are a few people walking the earth brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeves; not because they’re careless or foolish, but because they’ve been through enough to know that each time they share their stories they celebrate their triumph. They’ve won. Mary Perez, of Reflections from the Heart, is one of those people.


This Thing Called Tears by Mary PerezMAry I consider myself a tough cookie. After all, aren’t I a survivor? I’ve survived some hard times: A broken home by age three, followed by poverty, hunger, homelessness, alcoholism, neglect, loss of a sibling at age nine, two near-drowning incidents, in a car wreck, juvenile detention home, taunting, brawls, racism, alternative schooling, marriage to a ruthless man twice my age, bearing four children by the time I was twenty-two—three  by cesarean—physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, betrayal, hopelessness, despair, rejection, abandonment, being shot at (he missed), divorce, single-parenting … BUT God! Howbeit, there is a softer side to me as well. This thing called tears. Yes, a family member has even called me sentimental. I have been known to cry after losing a pet, even an insect. I cried when I shot my first deer. I may cry when reading a book, in a dance, a song, during weddings, or when watching a movie. I especially cry when I hear a newborn’s first cry, whether in real life or on TV, I can’t help it, the tears flow. I sometimes cry when opening presents, saying goodbye, at being pleasantly surprised, while laughing, praying, or worshipping in church. Seeing mountains, rainbows, the ocean, a kitten, or a hummingbird can make me cry. I cried when I heard my grandchild call me “Mimi” for the first time. And at times, I cry when I’m hurt, scared, tired, or angry. But I don’t want you to know that. I am tough. Not weak. Remember? Now I’m not much of a horse person, but I know enough to know that a horse is full of grace and strength with every muscle, tendons and ligaments working in unison to support a rider at galloping speed. Yet, that same powerful, majestic horse is controlled by a bit in its mouth and will move in the direction the rider wants to go. When I read about Moses, he was the meekest man who walked the earth. When I read about Jesus, He was all-powerful, yet kept that power in check. His meekness was not weakness. So, I say: It’s okay to let our guard down at times and reveal our softer, sensitive self. It doesn’t mean we’re a softy, or a weakling, or a pushover. Power under control means self-control, and that is a virtue. After all, we are human with God-given emotions. Besides, God bottles our tears. And because God loves us so much, I would venture to say: Sometimes God cries. © M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved


Running in heels“More than a memoir—this book is a promise of hope for anyone who was abandoned as a child, to anyone who woke up hungry and went to bed hungrier every day, for every wife who has loved a husband who left bruises on her heart and on her body.” Connect with Mary and find out more about her newly released memoir Running in Heels here!


Faith Simone says: It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and upfront about things that many people would like to pretend never happen. To come through it all with grit and grace intact, is nothing short of a miracle. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today Mary!

Writer Blues

I consider this blog to be one of my safe places so I feel no qualms about sharing with y’all that I’m currently in scary space. You see, it’s past time for me to begin my next novel and while my muse has been gently and consistently prompting me to tell her story, I have yet to write a single line. Wait, I take that back. A few months ago I wrote a scene from the many glimpses I’ve had into my protagonist’s life. It’s a highly emotional scene and I’m pretty sure it’s just one of many more. That’s precisely the problem.

Let me explain myself a little better. I’m an immersion writer. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an immersion writer is one who gives their entire life over to their current project. They don’t just want to research being a minor league football player, they find a way to become a minor league football player. Then they write from that experience. A notable immersion writer is John Howard Griffin of Black Like Me. Immersion writing typically applies to journalists or non-fiction writers, but I’m choosing to use the term in relation to myself because I emotionally immerse myself into the lives of the fictional characters I’m creating.

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This is where my resistance to starting my next book comes in. I’m at a point in my life where I’m genuinely happy and content. It’s been a long time coming and I had to fight my fair share of battles to get here. I don’t want to immerse myself in the emotional landmine that I’m sure this book is meant to be. I don’t want my muse to tell me of her secrets. I don’t want to unveil the experience of her neglect and misuse. I don’t want to know what she’s been through. I don’t want to feel the sorrow of it all. I’ve admitted before that I was once afraid to sit in the stillness of my own sorrow, so I for sure don’t want to sit in fullness of her’s.

Yet, because I finally worked up the courage to sit in my own sorrow, I know that doing so is the only way to help her make it through to the joy that I fully believe is waiting for her on the other side. The same way it waited for me. The same way it will be waiting for the readers of this next book who need to know that it’s possible to come out of a place of hard-earned despondency into unmerited grace. So I’ll sit with her in sorrow, but only because I plan to journey with her to victory.

Does the project you’re working on affect your mood? Have any advice about how to emotionally distance myself from the occurrences of my work-in-progress, without losing the sensitivity that my writing style requires? Anyone ever wanted to write one thing, but feel pressed to write something entirely different? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice!

 

Photo credit: _Hadock_ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And the Winner is… #Giveaway

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Whew, it’s been a busy week all up and through here! My week long blog tour is over, and it’s time to announce the winners of the giveaway. Three fantabulous people have won 1 $10 Amazon Gift Card each! Without further adieu, here are the winners:

Rachel M.

Mary V. 

Christa W.

Winners I’ve sent you an email, and once you confirm your email addresses I’ll send you an e-gift card. Thanks to everyone who entered and participated in my blog tour week! Your pictures are next to the word awesome in my dictionary. :)

A Lover’s Prayer + #Giveaway

Today marks the last leg of my blog tour week! Today I’ll be over at author Demetria Foster Gray’s blog where I’ll offer encouraging words to inspire the pursuit of your passion. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!  I’ve enjoyed visiting with all my blogger buddies and dishing about my latest book, but all good things must come to an end. Today’s the last day of the giveaway. Don’t forget to enter below!

WTRTCA Sunset Final2

When the Real Thing Comes Along is about an unexpected love triangle and all the complications of the heart that go along with it. The above picture is a prayer from one of Jacelynn’s love interests. Who do you think is praying? Is it Jason or Taylor? Mmmmhhh, I guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Have you ever been apart of a love triangle? Was it more pleasure or headache? Have you ever had a person you were dating pray with you? Was is comforting or creepy? I’m all ears!


 

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Photo credit: roybuloy / Foter / CC BY-SA

A Couple of Laughs + #Giveaway

I’ve mentioned my sister a couple of times before, but today I feel like paying special tribute the lady I affectionately call Sista CJ. I dedicated When the Real Thing Comes Along to her and her reaction was priceless. Take a look. I used slow motion to make sure I captured the full emotional impact. :)

 

Then during the winter/ice storm she decided that the trash can just had to be rolled out to the curb; despite the fact that it was highly unlikely that the sanitation workers would even come to pick it up. I sensed the opportunity for some comic relief and let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed.

I hope you had a good laugh at my sister’s expense. If I’m wrong for posting these videos, I don’t wanna be right! After all, laughter is medicine.


On another note, I’m still on tour and today I’m making quite a few stops. Join me at Writing Fiction for the Renewed Mind. There, I’ll be giving 5 easy tips for increasing your blog traffic. After that, check out my book spotlight with authors Adrienne Thompson and Unoma Nwankwor. You’ll get an exclusive excerpt from When the Real Thing Comes Along! And finally if you’re a foodie, mosey on over to Strong Women, Brave Stories where I’ll share the recipe for my mama’s famous Mexican style lasagna. It’s the business y’all. Just take a quick look at the pic below.

I overcooked it just a little!

I overcooked it just a little!

 


Do you have a favorite recipe? A funny joke? Tips for increasing blog traffic? Tell us about them below!

Blog Tour Stops: Writing Fiction for the Renewed Mind, Author Adrienne Thompson,  Strong Women, Brave Stories & Fusing Faith Romance & African Spice!

Enter to win one of (3) $10 Amazon Gift Cards!

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