Show verses Tell

This can be the bain of a new writer’s life. Show verses tell. What is it? How does it affect our writing?

Let’s examine this more closely. A book which tells the reader everything can be to the point and doesn’t leave the reader with much to imagine. The telling can slow down the pace, making the plot slow and boring in some cases.

A book which shows gives the reader a reason to continue reading. They can imagine every scene and relive it in their head. The plot and characters become real to them, to the degree they fall in love with them.

So, how does this work, I hear you ask. Easy, think about everything you are writing. I’ve read lots of books where the character mumbles, mutters, shouts, gets frustrated, angry, happy – great, they need too. However, these words are redundant in writing. Yes, on occasion I use them but as a beat and not a dialogue tag. The way you write should bring these emotions out.

Examples – I can do loads if you want.

Happiness. Okay, every character at some point is happy. Below is two version of describing a happy person.

  1. “Oh, my god, I love it.” As Sarah glanced at the ring her happiness shone around her.
  2. “Oh, my god, I love it.” The ring glistened in the morning light. As Sarah’s chest filled with a heat, her eyes danced as she held out her left hand which tingled as he slipped the ring in place.

Now, the dialogue indicates shes happy at what just happened. Therefore the beat in number 1 isn’t required. Instead, number 2 shows us how she’s feeling. You can see in your mind how happy she is as he proposes. It’s like you are there in person witnessing the event.

But what if she said no?

  1. “But I can’t marry you.” The ring should have made her happy. Instead, Sarah shook her head as she let the sadness in.
  2. “But I can’t marry you.” The words were forced out as Sarah’s throat constricted. Turning her back on him, she crossed her arms, slumped her shoulders, and lowered her head.

Again, number 2 gives you an image in your mind. You can almost feel her heartbreak and are left wondering why she said no.

Now, showing isn’t hard. No, it’s not – don’t argue back. There’s an easy way to figure out the emotional response you want. Yes, it is. Stop arguing back and I’ll tell you. All you need to do is put yourself in your characters shoes – yes, they fit, and imagine how you’d feel.

Which brings us to another fact. A rather important one. If you feel nothing when you write, your readers will have the same response. It’s a well known fact that adding your own emotions makes the book. So, those funeral scenes, death scenes – I always cry when I write them. Weddings, engagements – I feel the joy. When I add any funny moments – I have to laugh. If I don’t, they go. And it’s not just once. Every time I read the manuscript through, those emotions return. The last paragraph in my Fareious three book is a happy ending. I’ve read it several times and every time my eyes water. I won’t say why. But this is the exact response you want from your readers.

If an author doesn’t feel this when writing it does show in the book. I’ve read a lot of books by new and well-known authors. I find both types which have that missing oomph. And the ones that aren’t up to scratch? Are the ones who tell. I have no image to go with what’s happening. Nothing to give me those emotional responses. The characters do nothing to make me love them.

Right, now go and do some writing. But remember. Show not tell, is one of the best things you can do. And if you want exercises to do – I’m happy to send you a few. Just contact me. In fact, I might do a few more blogs on the different types of emotions. Any interest?

Pinterest

I’m going to let you know how I got that amount of unique visits, and no adverts.

I opened my Pinterest account years ago. It was a personal one and I rarely used it. Then earlier this year I upgraded to a business account. Again, I ignored it.

The last few months that has changed. I changed my boards. I keep the ones of my interests and set up ones for my books. One for each series. Added quotes and pictures of things which inspired me when writing the novels.

Then I added more boards. I write dark romance, so I added a wedding and special events board. As I’m branching into paranormal, I added a supernatural board. This is where I add the potential pictures which might influence me when I begin certain books. If they do, they’ll be moved to the accompanying board.

You see, it’s not just about what you are writing at the time. Any other author knows, ideas pop into your head at any point. We write them down, but words aren’t enough. Pictures help. So, I add to to the spare boards. Then, I can look back and go, yeah, that’s what I wanted.

Here’s an example. I have a novel planned where my female main character will be involved in a photo-shoot. I’m not giving out anymore details but the photos that I’m thinking off, are in the appropriate board. When I start that book, I’ll have the ideas waiting for me to refresh my memory.

Simple. Right?

But remember that boards just on your books and ideas will get boring. I do crafts, so there is a board to cover that. I enjoy reading and have a board of all the books I’ve read and given 5 stars to. I read too many to post them all – just go to my Goodreads page to see the rest. I enjoy walking and wildlife – add in a wildlife and landscape board. I love, keep and breed rabbits – guess what – there’s a board. Anyone who visits my area, will learn a lot about me and I add in my own photo’s too.

I now get several pins saved everyday. My followers might not change too much, but my monthly figures are shooting up. 4k in one day. And not a penny spent.

Just remember to post new pins on a regular basis. Static boards get boring. I’m trying to post a few every day – but some days just don’t happen. Yes, it’s more work, writing the book is the easy bit, marketing and getting your brand out there is just plan awful. Lucky for me, I know a man who can help, but even then it’s still down to you to make the effort. Even paying someone, you need to do some work yourself. It’s your book. No one knows it as well as you.

So, now go out there and build your brand. Not your book.

Now, if only I can manage Facebook as well. Twitter is going better. But remember – no spamming book links. That will get your followers unfollowing. Interaction is the key.

And if you want to look me up – here I am.

What Type of Romance to write

Part Two

Wedding, Couple, Love, Wedding Couple

Contemporary Romance

This might be one of the more natural romances to write. The setting is in the modern-day. No thinking of having to world build, or get any historical facts right. If you set the story in an area you know, then you’ll be on roll.

Your characters will be people that you might come across in real life. Research can come just by you sitting and watching the world go by. The way people interact and talk. Cary that notepad with you at all times. The number of times I’ve picked up things at railways stations or bus stops is unbelievable.

Plot – again the modern-day makes it easy. Read the newspapers and watch the news. If celebrities are proposing – how are they doing it? Have you been invited to weddings recently? Same-sex marriages are no legal, so no need for any gays to hid in the dark. They can now show their feelings. Social media makes it easier for people to stay in touch, arrange things. Make the most of it. When I’m at events, my phone isn’t being used to check Facebook. No, I’m making notes.

The end – Now, these type of books always have an happy ending. Make a hash of that, and bye-bye readers.

One quick mention of the dreaded sex scenes. Contemporary romances can have all the sex you want. But most are clean or have less detailed scenes. Too many and you head in the erotic area. Don’t overdo them. One decent scene will be enough.

What type of romance to write.

Part One

Fantasy, Lake, House, Dance, Water, Sun

So, you want to write a romance, but what type are you interested in? I’m doing this in several parts as there are many types to cover.

Fantasy and Paranormal

I’ve added these two together as they can be closely related. They tend to have some sort of fancy element. This can be anything from vampires and shifters to angels and witches. Unicorns, stories based around fairy-tales or myths. It’s an endless supply.

These types of books can be set in the modern world, historical or even on a different plant. Whatever you decide you must world-build before even considering writing anything. You want the world to be believable. I’m planning two paranormal series which I hope to begin writing next year. At the moment, I’m world-building. I’m getting the main details sorted well in advance. If you don’t, you’ll not have a reference point to refer back too. Remember those readers? They’ll be spotting any problems.

Next, consider your characters. Clothes must match the mood. If they have powers, what are they? Weak points too. No one is perfect.

The layout of the ground. Social interaction – it all needs to be covered. The types of technology, the history the of place. Hierarchy. It’s your world do what you want but pass the info onto your readers. If to confusing they’ll close the book. Intrigue them. But, don’t overload them in one big go. Spread it out and bring the info in as needed.

Explain the species you have imagined. The flora and fauna. Give your readers an idea of the world but hold back and let their own imagination take hold. What do your characters want? Is there a back story? If you add a war, mention how it started. Why? Are your main characters the good guys from the start or will they grow into the role? It all needs to be covered.

And if you are still unsure – go and read a few romance fantasies. Learn how other authors branch into the subject. It’s a big area, one you need to know inside out.

Minor Characters

So, you have your main couple but what about the others? Those minor, side characters that filter in and out. Or do they? For those who have watched Grim, What about Juliette? The Grim’s wife? Minor or major? She came into her own as the program developed and you could say – one of the major characters. This is another thing to consider. Do you what them to remain as a minor character, or are you allowing them to grow?

Think about it. Your couple must have friends. Those they have grown up with, work with, go out with. You can’t ignore them. I dare you to try it. Go on, they’ll come back and bite you. They won’t stay in the background. Remember, they will affected by whatever you through at the main couple. A close friend wont just say – ‘Oh, well, its only a story’.

Minor characters help your main ones come out into the open. They might be the ones to help them get together. Match-make – it happens. Or she has to dump her friend at a party because this drop-dead, handsome guy appears. How will her friend feel. Add it in. Is she happy or will she throw in the jealous card? Think ugly sister time.

Don’t think your readers gloss over those little, bitty characters, they don’t. Okay, some might – there’s always the one. But take it from me, most won’t. So, what can you do?

When planning out your characters, don’t just concentrate on the main ones. That’s a big mistake. Take the same amount of planning with your minor characters. At some point, it’ll pay off. When your female goes out with her best friend you need to know what both like to eat and drink. Plan their birthday’s too. If it’s his best friends birthday, is he going to forget about it – I know, its a man thing so probably yes. But his friend will probably remind him.

Make sure you know their favorite colors too. If like me you then decide to write their story, you’ll already have the details to hand and won’t need to re-read the previous book – been there too. Remember those readers, yeah, those ones, the ones which will spot the inconsistencies and break out the bad reviews. Don’t give them the ammunition.

Your minor characters could easily steal the show, so get them right. You don’t need to go into a full description, unless they are getting their own book, let the readers decide how they appear. Many readers like that. If you do add a description,l do it early on before the reader makes their own decision. Nothing worse then deciding how a character looks and the author turns it all around – I know I hate it.

So, there you go. More decisions to make. Who said writing a book was easy? They were lying.

Writing that romance

Love, Romantic, Relationship, Together

So, you have your heroine and hero sorted. You’ve wrote their backgrounds but what next? Well, the plot. What are your couple going to discover? Are there threats against them? Or is it going to be a easy-going, fun-loving romance? After all, it’s your story.

But you need to get it right. So, today a few hints and tips. I’ll cover different styles of plots at a later date.

Understand your audience :- Simply right? Maybe not. Most readers of romance are female. They probably buy several books a month, so why should they buy yours? Let’s be honest, there are millions of romance books out there, its one of the popular genres. You probably won’t come up with a brand new plot – it’s all been done before. But, you can spice it up. Turn it around to your personal story. I’ve wrote a retelling of Cinderella, I advertise it as such. Why? Because readers like fairy-tales. When you here the word Cinderella, you think of her happy ending. But it’s been done before – I hear you cry. Yep, it has. So, what did I do? I got rid of Prince Charming. Sorry, I brought her a duke. No glass slipper either – can you imagine how uncomfortable they must be? I added a mask. Now they might have met at the masked balls, but that’s not where they figured out who each other where. No, I made her the owner of a husky stud. And our duke just happens to breed huskies too. There you go, Cinderella with a difference. All you need to do is think outside of the box.

Introduce your heroine : – After all, she’s the main interests here. Go and read my previous post on heroines.

Introduce her other half :- You know, the love interest. Again go and read my previous post on hero’s – but when to bring him in? Straight away or not? Now, this is down to the story. In Falling for a Dike, Ramsey turned up in chapter two. In Falling for Katie, Finlay had to wait until chapter five. Why? Because in my second Romancing in Scotland book, Katie needed more of an introduction, and the plot needed time to develop. So, add in your hero when good and ready.

Now, why are they going to fall in love? That’s the real reason you are writing the book, right? You must have some idea. Now, whatever you have planned – it’s about to go out the window. Yep, it is, don’t argue. So, you have the perfect outline but your characters don’t agree. They won’t – believe me. They will take your script and screw it up and probably be laughing. At some point you might be able to turn it back around – it might not last. Again, you need to think outside of the box – remember it’s all been done before. the girls’ been abused and doesn’t trust men? Thousand of them stories out there. The girl dreams of true love? You don’t want to know how many authors have written that – think fairy-tales again. Take your plot and spice it right on up. Make your readers believe why your couple are going to love each other. This is where the writing of your characters back story comes into play. If that is strong enough your story will fly. Too weak and it’ll flop. Above all else, bring that back story into the plot. If your heroine doesn’t trust easily, your readers will what to know why. The hero caries scars – why? At some point these issues will need adding.

Sex :- Okay, it’s a romance, this needs to be addressed. Are you writing a clean romance – no sex at all? Will you hint at it – drop out to black as they get it together? Or go the whole hog. That’s what I do. My romances are steamy – my mom has described them as filthy. I take that as a compliment – I must have done something right. Can I also point out I am single as I wrote them – so just because you don’t have another half to practice on doesn’t mean you can’t write about it. I mentioned before about google being your new best friend – you can’t imagine what you can find. Go on – google sex and see what you get. There are some good articles. And if you are a romance reader yourself, you know what other authors are writing. Don’t be ashamed of what you write because that will spoil the effect you want.

The ending :- Yes, the important bit. Your couple has met. They have had adventures which they may or may not have wanted. But remember it’s a romance – your readers want a happy ending. If it’s a standalone book, don’t add a cliff-hanger – bad reviews will come your way. If a series you can get away with a slight cliff-hanger – maybe a happy for now ending but hint at something else coming their way. My Persecuting series is out of print fort a revamp, at the moment. Book one has the happy for now ending. Book two completes their story. The others are all happy endings.The romancing in Scotland series are standalone – they need the happy ever after.

So, you have to basic outline – go and plot something.

Your Romantic Hero

Bodybuilder, Sixpack, Six-Pack, Muscles

The typical sexy hero. The one you find on the front of covers half naked.

People, Homeless, Man, Poverty, Male

But who’s to say this man isn’t someone’s true love either?

This one is similar in parts to writing your heroine. He must be believable. But what makes the perfect hero for your romance story. I’ve posted two picture above. One the typical sexy man you presume will turn up, but what is the heroine falls for number two? Are you going to turn off? Do you lose interest? Not if the author has done their job correctly.

The hero is the one who normally rescues the heroine. (Yes, it can be reversed, but I’m not going there just yet). You man must be the equivalent other half of your female. She must fall for him, but why him? Why not the man next door? Well, she could, nothing stopping her. I mean, your heroine is a strong busty woman. She can hold her own. Does she need a man to support her all the time? After all, if she can kick-ass already, the man might not need to. She might get a bit fed up of him butting in – now there’s a story. On the other hand, your female is weak and mousy. To sacred to say hello to her shadow. Does she want a man who jumps at every slight sound? Maybe not, she wants a man who will support her, while the first female might prefer a man who is happy to let her take control. Who said writing was easy?

Back to the basics. It doesn’t really matter what he looks like. Your female might fall for his looks, but eventually it’ll be his personality which will win out. So far, I’ve written a Duke and a private investigator. Both two different men. One born to riches, the other born to abuse. But both protect their female in their own way. (I’ve a bad-boy series too – first will be out December the first. Three different men with different ways of saving their women). The man thing is he doesn’t have to be perfect. Show his caring side, his strong half, but give him a flaw of some sort. Every Female dreams of the perfect man but come on ladies, do they really exist? Can you honestly say your other half is perfect and doesn’t get on your nerves? Own up, now.

Has your hero got a bad past? Bring it out. Maybe he argues a lot? Can’t accept his females love due to previous abuse – done that too. Make him storm off when he’s outnumbered. maybe then your heroine will feel sorry for him and that’s how their love develops. But remember to add those happy memories to slow the action down a bit. Send them out on a date – even if they do argue at the end. Not all dates go in the right way.

Whatever you do, your readers need to fall for your hero. A flat, boring hero will make them drop the book. He needs to grow, develop as the story goes along. Do they have the same interests, or are they the complete opposites. It can work.

Whatever you do, make the couple appear real. If you struggle to see them together, I can tell you, your readers won’t. Then you get those bad reviews and sales drop. However, that’s when the editing comes into play. You can correct things.

Above all else, if the story isn’t’ working, delete it. Yes, you read right. I once deleted 56,000 words. I cried but, the new edition was better and stronger.

So now you should have some idea about your main characters. Go and write and write them. Go on. I know you can do it now. The perfect couple.