Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Show don’t tell characterisation December 2, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:11 pm
Tags: ,

Found this article today on Tami Cowden’s site (thanks to a tip from Susan Meier in her workshop!)

She gives excellent examples of ways writers can use physical description, introspection, words and deeds, and attitudes of others to demonstrate character.

Why does my writing look more like her “before” examples, when I want it to be like the “after”?

Rich, powerful, revealing.

I have to remember this when I do my edits. Makes me see my writing is still too much bare-bones telling in places. I need to flesh it out.


4 Responses to “Show don’t tell characterisation”

  1. Barbara Says:


    This is an awesome link! I have her book and have used it since I started writing romance.

    As far as the writing, everyone does things in their own way. We start somewhere and ‘mature’ in our writing as we go. You writing is excellent.

    I hope you are enjoying the class.


  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    The class is fab- shame it’s only two weeks!

    This is what I’m realising is missing from my writing. I think my stories are stronger, I’m getting the right sort of conflict. My scenes ae better, less pretty/fuuny/sexy interludes that don’t work hard enough to move the story forward or develop the characters. But her examples showed me exactly what I’d been feeling my writing lacked- that depth and colour and lushness. The same thing I recognised in that sharon Kendrick first chapter I linked to. I want to paint a picture but all I have is a line drawing! Woot- think I might be on the edge of a breakthrough!

  3. Eileen Says:

    So there are these “Odyssey Workshops” that I’ve been looking into. They’re geared at Sci-fi/fantasy/horror/paranormal writing when they do their big summer workshop, but they have a six week online class as well. And your post made me think of the next one b/c it’s on showing not telling http://www.sff.net/odyssey/show_v_tell.html#top

    I’ve been debating whether or not to apply for the class. If I get in (b/c it is an application process not just a sign up) then I’d have to pay the money … and I’m wondering if it’s worth it. Although fantasy does have certain “telling” pitfalls that other genres do not (since no realistic fiction has to explain the way the world works or the way the car goes, or the toaster toasts etc). Hmm …

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    That’s a tough decision if it costs a lot! Infodump and telling are definitely even bigger problems when the world of he story is very different to the everyday world. I’m trying to remember where I read something excellent on this. A YA fantasy writer’s site. I’ll track it down when I’m home tonight.

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