Just Write

What does “show rather than tell” mean?

Writers have been told to “show” rather than “tell.” Do you wonder what that means? Barbara Poelle, “Funny You Should Ask,” Writer’s Digest, September 2015 says this about that: “Telling supplies information while showing explores information. In order to expand a narrative into more showing, think about the complete sensory experience of a scene.” If you rely on narrative, you run the risk of an “information dump,” where you give all the facts in a few sentences. Poelle suggests, and I agree, “Don’t fall into the trap of quickly getting information ‘out of the way’ so you can ‘get to the story.’ . . . Take your time to explore [the facts] through action, dialogue and the senses of the characters involved.”This way, you set the scene with a “kinetic feel.” All well and good, but what does this really mean? I played around with some scenarios: #1: I set…

Places to submit

Writer Advice: Scintillating Starts Contest

Writer Advice announces its Fourth “Scintillating Starts” contest.  $20 ENTRY FEE     —     3 PRIZES OF $100 B. Lynn Goodwin, Writer Advice: Whether you’re writing fiction, memoir or another prose genre, entice us. Grab our attention. Make us want to know more. Give us reasons to care. Submit the opening (up to 1500 words) of your book (any prose genre). Your cover letter must include your contact information. We don’t need a summary nor your publishing history. We’re looking at the manuscript opening, not the query. This contest is for those who have not yet received a contract for submitted work. Send your work to Writer Advice through Writer Advice Submission Manager. Lynn Goodwin will respond like an agent or editor who is looking for good writing that will sell. You’ll get perspective and insight. The prizewinners will be published. Deadline: 11/10/15. Note from Marlene: Don’t wait until the deadline to…

Guest Bloggers

The Often Over-looked Magic of the Nose

Guest Blogger Hoby Wedler writes about: The Often Over-looked Magic of the Nose: Exploring Smells Around You I was born blind. Growing up as a blind child forced me to pay closer attention to my nose than perhaps most people learn as children. I use my nose as a method of observing my surroundings, for navigation, to note whether or not food has spoiled, and most importantly to smell, taste and describe food and wine. It is important to note that not all blind people pay as close attention to their noses as I do. Many of my blind friends walk right past unique aromas that I easily pick up on. Thus, my love for thinking about aroma certainly does not stem specifically from my blindness. While I love describing aromas of many things, I notice whether they are pleasant, unique, off-putting, etc. I will use this opportunity to describe…


Start at the height of desire — David Lavender

Many of us have heard “start your story in the middle of the action, or the height of the conflict.” David Lavender suggests “start at the height of desire.” You need not worry about being dull if you can present within the first few hundred words a definite character in the grip of a definite emotion. “But introducing a character and his motives to an audience must be done deftly and without explanation. For example, if setting up a boy-loves-girl story, Lavender says, ‘I must show the boy immediately engaged in wanting the girl. I must do it with unobtrusive little touches. I must bring it out through the way he acts and what he says, being at all times careful not to let the reader guess that he is having something explained to him.’” — Nicki Porter, August 2015 The Writer magazine

Just Write

Sensory Details – Kinesthetic, motion in writing

How do we convey the sense of touch, or feel, or kinesthetic (motion) in writing? “The key to good imagery is engaging all five senses.” Five Types of Imagery: “The five senses: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste).” Previous posts about using sensory detail in writing:  visual, auditory and olfactory. Now, let’s explore using the sense of touch to embellish and enhance writing. Sometimes, the best way to learn is by example, learning from what others have written. “At school, the guilt and sadness were like wearing clothes still damp from the wash,” and “Whenever I moved, I felt as though I were touching something icy.” —Family Life by Akhil Sharma I know what that feels like, so when I read this, I can feel those damp clothes and know what the author wants to convey. Here’s an example of using movement in writing: “By the thirteenth loop,…

Places to submit

Chicken Soup for the Soul always looking for new talent

Have you wondered how Chicken Soup for the Soul chooses their stories? Do you have a story you think might qualify for selection for being published? What you need to know about Chicken Soup submissions: Recipe for A Winning Chicken Soup for the Soul submission A Chicken Soup for the Soul story is an inspirational, true story about ordinary people having extraordinary experiences. It is a story that opens the heart and rekindles the spirit. It is a simple piece that touches our readers and helps them discover basic principles they can use in their own lives. These stories are personal and often filled with emotion and drama. They are filled with vivid images created by using the five senses. In some stories, the readers feel that they are actually in the scene with the people. Chicken Soup for the Soul stories are written in the first person and have…


Imagine you are . . . Prompt #180

Imagine you are on a tropical paradise vacation. Sitting on the lanai, hearing the waves lap against the shore. Smell the ocean breeze. Feel the soft wind on your face. See the light curtain billow in the gentle breeze. Settle back in your rattan chair, cool refreshing drink nearby. Hear the ice clink against the side of your glass as you sip your refreshing drink. Hear the gentle wind chimes. Breathe deeply, enjoying the fragrance of fresh, tropical flowers – the heady scent of orchids, plumeria, roses. Perhaps pink, climbing roses. See a piece of fruit. . . an orange. Feel the bumpy, heavy skin. Peel it. Feel the texture of the orange free of its heavy skin. See the uniform sections connected into a symmetrical arc of segments . . . .a globe. Carefully, slowly pull on one of the segments. So slowly that you see the burst of…

Guest Bloggers

There was a smell of Time in the air . . .

Excerpt from The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury:There was a smell of Time in the air tonight. What did Time smell like? Like dust and clocks and people. And if you wondered what Time sounded like, it sounded like water running in a dark cave and voices crying and dirt dropping down upon hollow box lids, and rain. Time looked like snow dropping silently into a black room or it looked like a silent film in an ancient theatre one hundred billion faces falling like those New Year balloons down and down into nothing. That was how Time smelled and looked and sounded. Marlene’s Musings: I love the idea of writing what Time smells like. . . sounds like . . . looks like. . . Your Turn: Choose an item, an object, a thing, that interests you. . . what does it smell like? sound like? look like?