Show not Tell!


You know when you go to a writing workshop and the instructor is all: ‘show not tell.’ Then you read a book on writing and the author is all: ‘show not tell.’ Annoying right!?

When you write you need to show (not tell) what your characters are thinking through action and dialogue. I know what you’re thinking – it’s far easier to tell the reader everything that’s going on in the characters' minds than show it through action and dialogue. I know, right. It’s tough – but tough bananas (as my mother always says) that’s writing!

There's a tool I’ve been using as I’m writing my current w-i-p (a y/a contemporary drama) that helps me show how my characters are feeling through action.

It’s the Emotion Thesaurus written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.  For availability, check out their popular blog, The Bookshelf Muse, which is where it all started.  
Now that's a bunch of tough bananas.

I have a hard copy version of the Emotion Thesaurus that I keep by my computer, and when I’m writing I think: my character is feeling agitated, or paranoid, or resentful (just to name a few emotions the book covers) how would I show that? I look up the emotion and there are a whole lot of actions that show that emotion. (Which leads me to a brief musical interlude where I sing "I second that emotion." I'll stop now.)

It’s great. But I still have to get away from my characters all having gastrological, cardiac and neurological issues – their stomachs always seem to be clenching, hearts pounding, and hands trembling!


Comments

kathryn evans said…
what a brilliant tool! Think I'll have to get this....
JennaQuentin said…
Oh, now I have that song stuck in my head...mumbles "if you feel like lovin' me..."

Thanks for the info on the thesaurus - one of my critquers did just ask to show more what my peeps are feeling. I'll have to check it out!
Jan Markley said…
Nice one Jenna ... Yes, Jenna and Kathryn - I'm finding it a great resource. Check it out on line - you can look at the first few pages.
Angela Ackerman said…
Jan, I am so happy to find out that you're getting some brainstorming help from The Emotion Thesaurus! Thanks so much for the shout out and for recommending it--I really appreciate it! <3

Ange
Jan Markley said…
No problem Ange! Thanks for stopping by the blog!
Jan Markley said…
No problem Ange! Thanks for stopping by the blog!
crimsonleague said…
fun post! i enjoyed it a lot :-)

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