If you have written with me (Marlene), or if we have worked together on a writer/editor collaboration, you have heard me say “give the reader a visual.” I’m so excited to discover Margie Lawson and her thoughts about visuals. The following is an excerpt from her May 20, 2016 guest blog post on Writers In The Storm.
Margie Lawson – Guest Blogger:
Most writers know Show Don’t Tell, but sometimes they think they’re showing when they are telling.
Here’s my oh-so-easy check.
Read the sentence that you think SHOWS the reader something.
Ask yourself —- What’s the Visual?
You may be surprised that the sentence doesn’t provide a visual.
Wondering why I care?
Wondering why I think you should care?
Most readers have a video playing in their mind of the scene they are reading.
If a writer TELLS instead of SHOWS, the reader’s screen goes blank. No imagery. No power.
When the writer TELLS, they’re sharing what the POV [point of view] character is thinking. They’re intellectualizing for the POV character.
The writer is not putting the emotional power on the page.
He looked angry.
She seemed agreeable to the plan.
He made a face.
She didn’t say anything, but he could tell she was pleased.
He knew she was nervous.
She looked like she wanted to go with him.
Jake seemed out of sorts.
If you’ve read one of my blogs before, or taken one of my online courses, or consumed one of my lecture packets, you know I always provide examples that support my teaching points.
Here comes the fun!
“Someone got hurt.”
She studied Susan’s face. “Are you okay?”
Whoops. What’s the visual?
We’re missing the subtext. We need to know Susan’s facial expression.
The POV character is watching Sam.
Sam moved around in an agitated manner.
What’s the visual?
Both parts of that short sentence are TELLING.
How did Sam move?
How does the POV character know Sam is agitated?
What’s his facial expression?
Mike is the POV character.
Traci seemed upset. “I need to leave.”
Mike touched Traci’s arm. “Don’t leave. We need to talk.”
What’s the Visual? Mike touched Traci’s arm, but the reader doesn’t know how Mike can tell Traci is upset.
The writer could SHOW, and share subtext, with Traci’s actions or face or voice.
Writers don’t need to add SHOWING to every sentence or paragraph. But many sentences need those visuals. They share the emotion, hook the reader.
Please click Margie Lawson’s Guest Blog Post to read the rest of Margie’s post on Writers In The Storm.
Margie Lawson—editor, international presenter—teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners. Margie has presented over ninety full day master classes for writers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and on cruises in the Caribbean.
To learn about Lawson Writer’s Academy, Margie’s 4-day Immersion Master Classes, her full day Master Class presentations, on-line courses, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit www.margielawson.com.
Writers In The Storm – very cool blog with a fabulous resources list.
Writers In The Storm is a group of seasoned writers. We write in different genres and bring unique perspectives and strengths to the table.
Along the way, we’ve discovered that there’s more to life than writing, and sometimes life can be the richest story of all.
We chose Writers in the Storm as the name of this blog because every writer must weather the storm within: self doubt, rejection, deadlines and balancing our writing passion with everyday life. Not to mention the storm raging outside – the paradigm shift in the publishing industry.
We began this blog in April of 2010. Over the years, we’ve narrowed our focus, to writing craft and inspiration. Many writers have helped us on the path, and we hope to give a hand back to aspiring writers.