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Tip Tuesday #91

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where blog readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Today I have a tip from the lovely Christie Wright Wild, aspiring picture book author. Please visit her blog Write Wild after you read her fantastic tip below.

Show and Tell

In writing, we don't have a battle of the sexes, but a battle of pansters and planners. For those of us that might have a hard time with "show, don't tell," try "tell, then show" first. All you have to do is tell someone (your best friend, the blank page, will do) and then slow it down by adding details afterward. Rewrite it as if you can see on the screen.

Sometimes it helps to write a brief summary of what happens, the major plot points, the ending (or at least a few ideas). On paper. Then go back and show to your heart's content. For a novel, the telling might only be two pages. Or twenty. It's just a simple map. A guideline. A sketch. The route can always be changed. The scenery can always be added. Planning doesn't have to be a formal outline. You can write a one-sentence summary for each chapter, or a simple list of some of the main action that needs to occur. It's a lot easier to tell a few pages and show 50,000 words than it is to show 50,000 words without ever telling much of a story.

So the next time you hear "show, don't tell," think about "tell, then show." It will certainly make writing a query a whole lot easier. And that's a lot shorter than twenty pages!

-Christie Wright Wild


Kristen Gurri said...

Great tip. Thanks for sharing it and the link to Write Wild.

Unknown said...

Showing vs. Telling has recently gotten so much better after I read the book See Jane Write. The examples they gave were perfect for the genre I was writing in and was able to explain it in a way that made sense to me. I lvoe when that happens.

That being said I love this writing tip! Happy Tuesday!

Matthew MacNish said...

Hmm. I never thought of it that way, but I suppose that's kind of what I do with my very brief outlines.

Great tip!

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Thank you for sharing that idea. I like it.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the tip. I think it's great too for when you're struggling to make a scene work.

Lacie Myers said...

This bite-sized tip is a nice reminder of some things I learned at a recent writing conference. Much needed!

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Nice tip. I love that you turned the "show, don't tell" line on its head.

Also, I wanted to let Natalie and Casey know that I've given Literary Rambles the Irresistably Sweet Blog Award over at www.literally-ya.blogspot.com. Your blog's insanely helpful, so thanks for what you do.

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

I think an opposite problem! I tend to show all the time and never tell (which seriously increases the word count and bogs down the reading), so I often have to go back and insert some telling. Either way, it's good to get some variety I think, but okay however you want to write the early drafts.

Great tip!

Christie Wright Wild said...

Thanks everyone! And thanks for the book referral, too.

KM Nalle said...

I love this tip. I didn't realize it, but I think I do this when I get stuck. It works!

Emily R. King said...

Wonderful idea! It's almost as though you're saying write an outline with the basics and then go back and beef it up. I do that, but sometimes when I add something later I forget to embellish. Thanks for the tip!