Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What exactly are you trying to tell me ... and why?!

By Fellowship of the Rich

 "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov

This is one of my favorite writing quotes! I love the simplicity and the way Chekhov captures the very essence of showing vs telling -- which is, in my opinion, one of the biggest turn offs in writing.

Telling is one of the fastest ways to kill a story. It pulls the reader out of the driver's seat and puts them on the passenger's side.  If you write 1st person, this is just an epic fail. The reader won't relate to your character. They won't feel what your protagonist is feeling. After all, shouldn't a 1st person story be an experience?

I've come across a LOT of (potentially) wonderful stories lately, but the writing has been so ... not enticing. From the opening paragraphs, I find myself cringing and disappointed. This isn't to say I haven't been there or don't have my own struggles in writing. It's just a learning process. And, to be honest, we don't always have the best examples to go on. With the easy and cheap options of self-pub out there, and Tom, Dick, or Sally can be published. 

That brings us here: What exactly is showing vs telling?

Here's an example of something I've seen many times. (This is ONLY an example. It isn't taken from anyone's work.)

"I walked outside and went down the stairs of the old house. The wind started blowing, and a strange feeling came over me. I sniffed and made a face. A mean looking dog waited by the corner of the yard. He growled as I got closer."

Now then, this is boring and senseless sentence. It tells us what the writer might want the reader to know, but sheesh. It's a story, not a police report.

What would happen if we watched and thought through the character's eyes? You don't decide to walk outside and decide to go down the stairs. You don't feel the wind, and think, "Geez, I'm cold." Bring in your senses! How would you react to that chilling wind? What do you see, smell, taste, hear, or feel when you step outside? The reader wants to experience the journey. Make them.

Let's try it again with some F-E-E-L-I-N-G!

"The steps groaned in protest as the rail's paint flaked under my fingers. A gust of wind howled across the yard, raising goosebumps on my skin. The scent of rotting earth and mildew filled the night air. A low growl emanated from the shadows as a hulking dog emerged. I froze. Foamy white drool dripped from his fangs and spattered the dirt."

Okay, this isn't the best in the west, but it gets my point across. You can show what's happening just as easy as you can tell it. The latter, however, gives you more information in a way that's exciting rather than to the point. Use every tool in your physical arsenal to paint a living picture.

I will say this though ... it's okay to tell certain things. You don't want to inundate people with details either. If you're writing a scene where you want the reader to be fully immersed, yes, go sensory all the way. If your character just needs to go from point A to point B, don't weigh people down with senseless rambling. We don't need to know what color the airport is, or the exact angle of a fence post. Think balance :) It's all part of the learning process.

Writing is a journey, but as most authors can tell you, it's never really over. Learn as you go, and enjoy every second of it! And remember, we all struggle with different aspects of the craft. Don't let it discourage you, and never give up!

What are some of things you deal with or bother you in writing?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review and Giveaway! -- THE SECRET OF THE KEEPERS by Elizabeth Isaacs

The Secret of the Keepers: Kailmeyra's Strength (Kailmeyra, #2)

Life for Nora couldn't be better; she has married the man of her dreams and loves living in the pristine land of Kailmeyra.

That is, until the darkness threatens her perfect world.

Now war is upon the land. She and Gavin must strengthen their clan and prepare to fight. But the enemy has an ally—one that not only wields power, but holds knowledge of the ancients' secrets. Secrets that could destroy creation itself.

As the darkness grows, doubt seeps in ... protectiveness hinders progress ... and the unthinkable comes to pass.

Bewildered and alone, Nora shoulders the responsibility of leading an entire race to war. As she struggles with decisions that seem impossible to make, she is haunted by one choice.

"No one has ever doubted that you would die for those you love. The question then becomes ... would you live?" (From Goodreads)


Wowza! That's the best word to describe The Secret of the Keepers! Isaacs delivers a knock-out with the sequel to her debut novel, The Light of Asteria! Action, romance, mystery, and betrayal... The Secret of the Keepers can't be missed!

The story kicks off with Gavin and Nora traveling to the most incredible place anyone can imagine. If that isn't enough, their journey is leading them to the place they'll spend their honeymoon. As always, Isaacs doesn't let us down in the swoon department, but more than that, you truly feel the love between the Gavin and Nora. Elizabeth has a way of crafting her words and setting the scene to include the reader, to truly bring them into the story. It's an experience, I can promise you!

While Gavin and Nora's time is spent  growing together and becoming one, that connection also proves to be a challenge in a way neither expected. With each one possessing certain traits and abilities, adjusting to the onslaught of an a Alfar mind becomes a struggle for Nora. But she takes it in stride, allowing Gavin to help her adjust to her newfound gifts and abilities even though she fears overwhelming the emotionally-private lives of her clan.

Before long, the honeymoon comes to a halt when word travels from the capital of Kaileyra that the Dokkalfar are growing in power and reviling in knowledge they should've never held. Now, Gavin and Nora must work together to operate as one as well as strengthen their clan to prepare for battle with the Dokkalfar. 

Most of the original characters are in this story as well as a few, new friends. One new "guy" in particular, Rune, has quickly become one of my favorites! His gruff, straightforward ways are endearing, and his love for Kailmeyra heartfelt. Rune is a valiant and passionate character in the most unusual of packages! Not to mention, he's a hoot ;)

It's nearly impossible to put into words how I felt reading this story! Seeing the growth in the each character, making a few new friends along the way, and truly feeling everything Nora does is an opportunity few readers experience. I laughed, I cried, I rode a whirlwind of emotion throughout this journey! Isaacs' ability to create such an amazing world full of vibrant characters that feel as real as in any in our own is enviable! Her fluid style and sensory writing leaves you satisfied yet wanting more! Don't miss the opportunity to read this story!


 Want to know more about the incredible author? You can find Beth at her website, on Twitter, and through her Facebook page! She loves to hear from fans, so shoot her a howdy and "Like" her page ;) 

Now, for more fun stuff! If you'd like a chance to WIN a an ebook of this fan-freaking-tastic book, just leave a comment with how to reach you! That easy!

Thanks to Beth for allowing me the privilege of reading and reviewing this one-of-a-kind story! I can't wait for the final installment! 

***This giveaway is now over***