Show Don’t Tell – Super Basics in Creative Writing

Writing Pen and JournalRecently I shared an example of “Show, Don’t Tell” with a fellow student in my writing class. This was such a hard concept for me to learn. The examples may not be stellar, but I think they get the point across.

When you want to “show, don’t tell,” describe the senses and employ the use of descriptions, not just for physical objects but actions, too.

This is telling:  “Mary was so upset because she couldn’t apply her make-up just right. She only had one hour to go before her blind date, Roger, picked her up. Her best friend from work, Sally, fixed her up. It would be Mary’s first date in a year since she broke up with Fred.”

LipstickThis is showing: “Her eyeliner was too thick, the concealer caked under her eyes, and she swiped on too much pink blush that made her look like a call girl. If only Mary’s hand would stop shaking so she could reapply her make-up before her blind date arrived.

Sally, Mary’s co-worker, brightened up when she spoke of her brother, Roger, and Mary imagined enjoying his down to earth, yet exciting personality. She needed someone like that since her break up with compulsive and pretentious Fred. Mary relaxed her clenched jaw and took a deep breath, then poured some make-up remover onto a cottonball.

Instead of telling that “The fire truck went rapidly down the street” show how “The massive red fire engine roared over potholes and left trash flying in its wake.”

singerUse original metaphors and similes to tell your story.

A metaphor or simile helps your reader to easily envision the thoughts you’re trying to convey. “He seemed as tall as the tree in my grandmother’s garden,” or “He fought like a man with no arms,” or “She sang as if chalkboard scratching was a new art form.”

What is one of your favorite “show, don’t tell” sentences, be it yours or from another author?

How to Intensify Conflict & Deepen Characters—The Wound

Carole Avila:

Valuable writing advice to ramp up just about any story or creative non-fiction work. Kristen Lamb is amazing!

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 10.17.54 AM

Hmmm, what’s the story behind THIS?

There are all kinds of arguments about which area of craft is the most important for creating great fiction. Plot? Character? Voice? Theme? My opinion. They’re all organs in one body. Our brains will still work if our lungs have bronchitis, but maybe not at an optimal level. Similarly, there are people with brain injuries who have a strong heart. A body can “live” without everything operating in concert, and so can any story.

It’s ideal to hone our skills in all areas, and our goal is to be skilled at all of them. Can we be equally skilled? That’s another debate for another post.

I will say that plot (skeleton/brain) is very important. Our characters (heart) are only as strong as the crucible. Ultimately, all stories are about people. We might not recall every detail of a plot, but we DO remember characters…

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What’s In a Name?

Cedar Peak--UtahRecently I stayed at a La Quinta Inn in Fort Collins, Colorado and helped myself to the free hotel directory naming all the city locations. I was amazed at the wonderful collection. For first names I found Charlotte, Austin, Lenexa, Hammond, Augusta, and Morgan. Interesting last names included Denham, Slidell, Verona, Cordova, Calhoun, LaGrange, and Plattsburgh.

Historical Names from Fremont Indian Park, UtahI also took photos of monument and museum placards for historical names. We stopped at the Fremont Indian State Park (where tragically the rare archaeological site of an entire village of the Fremont Indians was destroyed to build the I-70 freeway in Utah.) Names of settlers included Hanna Braithwaite, Bernard Barnson, and their kids Lora LuJean, Rowland, and Ormandy, among others.

Even La Quinta and Fremont make wonderful last names. Names are important in writing as they help the writer, and especially the reader, to connect to the characters. Aside from the internet, where do you suggest finding names for your characters?

How Far Can I Go Without Khloe Kardasian?

Khloe KardashianRecently, I read on AOL news that Khloe Kardasian has the most instagram followers ever–over 11 million hits!

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you had that kind of support in your community for your creative endeavors?

On that note, I’m asking for your support by doing one or more of the following:

NEW COVER1.)  Like me on Facebook Follow / Retweet me on Twitter, Recommend Eve’s Amulet on GoodReads, and/or Repin me on Pinterest.
2.)  Follow my blog and ask at least one of your contacts to do the same. (If preferred, my new blog is Healing Through Awareness and Self-Expression.)
Vote in the poll below.

What is your opinion — does social media really make a difference to any small business trying to market or promote their product?

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Why Do We Hurt Those We Love?

In Book 1 of Eve’s Amulet, Carmena falls head over heels in love with Captain Sanders, yet she is guilty of hurting him:

Rocks [2]“I care about you, Charles.”
Then he eyed me as if he had emotional X-ray vision. “You smashed my skull with a rock.”
I shrugged. “Only out of necessity.”

Okay, so not all of us are guilty of physically hurting someone, but I’m mainly referring to emotional hurts. With skewered boundaries stemming from childhood dysfunction, we usually have a tendency to find similar relationships as adults. Many of us come to the realization that our adult relationships aren’t based on integrity––that is communicating honestly and staying true to our words. Then, our feelings of frustrations mount and hostile feelings turn into harsh words and actions.

We also take our unhappiness out on loved ones when we’re dissatisfied with our own lives instead of finding a way to create the change we want.

Why do our loved ones suffer our own frustrations? Here are some reasons why we subject them to poor treatment:

  1. They’re generally the ones who love us more unconditionally than others, and we know they won’t walk away. They’ll forgive us or at least put up with our outbursts.
  2. They’re the true object of our frustration.
  3. We take advantage of the fact that the low-self esteem of our loved ones permits them to be emotional punching bags.

None of these reasons makes it right to take our frustrations out on others. Resolve your feelings by being proactive and doing something that makes a positive difference.

  • Get through your fear and do what you’re afraid of and have the most resistance to. You’ll find more joy than you can imagine. Your happiness should positively affect your loved ones. And if not, you’re not responsible for their insecurities.
  • Decide if you want to work on the relationship or situation by temporarily walkingWalk Away away. (If you have a toxic relationship with people or a situation, walking away is about the only way to get clear headed outside of therapy.)
  • Be willing to honestly share your feelings, saying what hurts and why you were angry. Listen as others share the same with you. Be honest and forgiving, even if the other person doesn’t honor our feelings after we share. People who love you can eventually learn to have integrity by way of your example.
  • Never feel guilty for having to do what’s right for you, although it may not be right for others. As long as you’re not bringing physical harm to yourself or anyone else, you have a right to your own choices, even mistakes, whether others agree or not.

If you feel like sharing: how do you catch yourself when you inadvertently take your frustration out on your loved one? What could be done to end that pattern?

Elongated Sunset

Photo by Alexis Bracamontes


6 Steps to Help Overcome the Need to be “Taken Care Of”

Girl looking down

Adults with traumatic childhoods sometimes might expect people, like their spouses and parents, to provide an income, home, or some type of service so they don’t have to work or do things for themselves. Coming from an abuse background, I also felt entitled, feeling that my parents and siblings owed me for neglecting me or treating me poorly during an abusive childhood.

My main character, Mandy, in Eve’s Amulet~Book 1 had a hard time accepting responsibility. When she finally did something productive that served others as well as herself, the feeling was practically foreign to her, but she loved it and started making powerful and good decisions.

Happy face on sunWhen the book was published, everything changed. For once I was getting control of my life. Responsibility wasn’t a burden as it felt in the past, and a new feeling arose as I headed toward self-reliance.

I learned a few significant things along the journey:

    • Always trust your gut instinct. Our gut instinct is always right. It’s only wrong when we misinterpret that inner voice or allow people to talk us out of what we intuitively know is right. Knowing is not what we hope or wish for, but what we actually know even if it can’t be justified or reasoned away.
    • Say Yes or No to what does or doesn’t feel right. Don’t be afraid to make choices that serve you. You’ll be back in control and can chart a new direction for your life.
    • Stop procrastinating. Procrastination is generally the fear of failure or avoiding problems or confrontation by keeping busy with other less important things or things that don’t directly serve you. Get the worst task out of the way, and everything else is easy in comparison. Be proactive by trusting your gut instinct and acting on it.
    • Stop blaming. You may have suffered when others did you wrong during your childhood, or even now in the work place or home, but blame is like worry and guilt, serving no one, and they’re all a waste of time and energy. You’re an adult now. Stand up to bullies, ignore parental guilt, and don’t worry about things out of your control.
    • Being proactive is healthier than making excuses. Do at least one thing a day related to achieving personal goals in career or in other productive Square Horizonareas that you would normally put off. You’ll achieve more if you take even one tiny step each day towards completing a goal.
    • Embrace the opportunity to make good decisions that are in your best interest, as well as for the greater good. Wield your personal power in a positive light!

A mature person accepts responsibility for what they did that was good, as well as for what resulted based on incorrect action or wrong thinking. The true delineation that determines adulthood is when a person elects to hold themselves accountable for their own actions and is willing to make corrections when necessary.


Vote on a New Cover for Eve’s Amulet!

Banner for WordPressI had a not too popular cover on my debut novel, Eve’s Amulet–Book 1, but I didn’t rush to change it. Now it’s time!

Eve’s Amulet is an exciting time-travel historical adventure series with a lot of interaction between the characters, including those of a romantic nature. I needed a cover to suggest that, as well as to keep the old west theme of Book 1, as Mandy is sent back in time to Texas, 1845. Which cover do you prefer? Please cast your vote below and answer this question:  If you could time travel, what time period would you want to get stuck in?












Cast your vote and let us know what era you’d like to time travel to and be eligible to win a copy of Eve’s Amulet–Book 1!

Thank you for your input!