Well, folks. It was fun while it lasted.

As you can see, not much has been happening on this blog lately.

There are several reasons for this, but I will only hit on a couple:

First: It's amazing how much can change in a couple of months--both in our personal lives and on the writing front. A couple of us have signed publishing contracts, and so the need to write, edit, market, promote HAD to take preference over this blog and the services we were providing.

Second: Running this blog, critiquing submissions, providing feedback...well, that's a LOT of dang work. We weren't getting paid for this service. We had a concept and we went with it--for free--not realizing how much time it would involve with very little (nothing) in return for our effort.

Third: Probably the biggest factor that made us come to this decision, was the fact that a good portion of the submissions we received just weren't ready. They needed more revision. We were wanting to give out reviews on AMAZING, fully complete, well edited novels. 90% of what we received didn't come close.

So we've shut it down. We've moved on.

If you liked our comments and our posts, you can check us out on our individual blogs:

Angela Scott: www.whimsywritingandreading.weebly.com or @whimsywriting on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/AngelaScottWriter

D.S. Tracy:

Kacey Mark:

Friday, June 17, 2011

R.U.E. The Day! Your Baby's All Grow'd Up

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 12:29 AM
My daughter is quite the tender thing. She’s seven, and anytime we talk about her future marriage, career, or anything that involves a new address, her eyes instantly fill with tears. She’s terrified of leaving home—leaving me. I eat it all up too. I pat her on the back and wipe her tears, telling her she can live with me as long as she wants.

The truth is, I’m just as terrified of her leaving me as she is terrified of facing the world without her mom. One day, my baby will be all grow’d up and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s part of creation. Something is born; it grows and thrives; then it moves on to something else.

The same is true of writing. I won’t suggest that having a finished novel is like having a child, although to many of us it feels like that. We’ve poured everything we have into it, hoping that our efforts will pay off, that readers will see our vision—they’ll get it. It’s hard to fully let go, to put it in the hands of people we’ve never met. Will they treat it poorly? Will they appreciate its potential?

I’m not sure where the need to explain comes from but I’m seeing it a lot in the novels I’m critiquing and in submissions for this blog. Starting the novel in the wrong spot is one of the big signs to me that the writer will over explain. Often it will start with backstory or an introduction to a bunch of characters, or an info dump about the setting. Meanwhile, I’m wondering where the story is. All the details are nice, but readers want to forget they are reading. They want to experience the words rather than simply pass them by with their tired eyes. Experiences not information.

So Hook’er what do you mean by this urge to explain?

I’m glad you asked.

One way is through emotions. Are you telling your readers how your character feels or are you showing us?

           Jane wiped away her tears, depressed that she couldn’t live with her mom forever.

The sentence started with action. We see that Jane is sad. Why is she sad? What’s up Jane? But before we can experience or reflect on Jane’s sadness, our question has been answered. Jane’s depressed because she doesn't want to leave her mom.

The writer stole the experience right out from under the reader. The writer provided information. Another term for this is “telling vs. showing”. If your reader feels cheated enough, he will stop reading. I do all the time.
I don’t have a lot of time to read. Besides my own writing, I have boogery kids with noses to wipe, a husband who likes to eat, and a house that should be cleaned. Those mundane things occupy my day, and when I pick up a book, I want to escape the ordinary. I want to jump into a world and experience something new—to feel something different.

So are you explaining too much? How do you know?

Do you have long passages of narrative summary with no action? Do you describe your characters feelings or are you telling us they are mad, sad, glad? Do you start your story with the MC’s past or do you jump right into the inciting incident? Do you spend the first part of your story worldbuilding or do you allow your reader to experience the world, see the world through the POV character?

I don’t want this blog to simply come off as another don’t break the show vs. tell rule. I completely understand the need to explain, to want your reader to leave with complete understanding. To see that your “baby” is all grow’d up and that you are so proud. But it’s time to let go, time to send your baby off and let others see just how much love you poured into it, to experience it firsthand.

Have you R.U.E’d today? 

Thanks for looking, 
The Skeptical Hook’er

4 comments:

Marc on June 17, 2011 at 7:56 AM said...

Great post. Sadly, I admit that I am guilty of this quite a bit when writing in 3rd person. Now that it's been mentioned, both here and to me personally, I shall be keeping much more aware of it, :-)

However, I do feel like writing in 1st person might deal with this issue slightly differently.

For one thing, when something devastating happens to a person, it is sometimes such a world-rocking event for them internally that they can have trouble even articulating what has occurred, let alone focus to an enormous degree on what's happening to them physically. It can take every ounce of their energy to even form the words in their minds, and barely squeak out what has occurred, let alone describe in detail each microscopic degree of trajectory change a tear that rolls down their cheek will make. They may not realize they're crying, they may raise their voice unexpectedly, they may even be physically attacking someone uncontrollably and it's only after straightening out their thoughts, which we are privy to 100% of a book told in 1st person, that the character realizes what they're doing and moves on from there.

Another thing is that when a character who is narrating in 1st person watches someone else dealing with a problem, it is pretty much their version of what that person's sadness is like. They can only stand there and speculate on what those feelings are like as they describe what that person is doing physically. In that case, telling needs to occur over showing, as it's not their problem, it's someone else's. You cited an example in 3rd person, and it did sound slightly weak compared to what it could've said. But if that whole sentence were one of the characters speaking, the second half of the sentence could be seen as another character's viewpoint of what Jane is going through. We might take on Jane's perspective later, and her narration might corroborate it, or it might be a complete 180 by comparison.

So while I do agree that telling over showing, when done in 3rd person omniscient, can really bring a story down by making a reader feel like they're sitting before a godly being with a book on their lap, when done in 1st person, from multiple different perspectives, hearing multiple people say what a person is feeling can in fact develop characters in a different way, as their internalizing of their viewpoints still shows us what kinds of people they are. :-D

Lyn Midnight on June 18, 2011 at 8:35 AM said...

First of all, yes, most writers are guilty of explaing too much. I do it most of the time and have to edit those parts later. I agree with everything you said in this respect.

Second, what Marc's saying makes sense too, and it's interesting for me to develop this topic further. Are the rules different for 1st and 3rd person? Says who? I myself write in 1st person mostly, even though I like to read third better (sigh).

It's a more intimate account of events and me being fascinated with people's experiences and viewpoints, adds up to my desire to write in 1st person. So maybe in a further post one of you lovely ladies can address this question?

I really like this blog so far, thank you! :)

Ready, Aim, Hook Me on June 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM said...

I think first person has a certain amount of liberties that third doesn't. It has an intimate feel to it and you can get away with things that you can't in third because it is all from one person. Like Catcher in the Rye, Holden was unreliable, we couldn't trust him to tell the truth, that is the experience part I was talking about. He is shaping the story with deception. There are times, too, with first that the MC leads us astray with their thoughts, we trust in them only to find out differently in the end. For me, if your story(third or first) is weighted with more information rather thing an action and experience, I think it will fall in the over explain category. The thing about writing rules is you can't force yourself into them. Passive voice, for example, there are those who refuse to have any in their work. The trouble is, there are times when passive voice works; we want to focus on the object rather than the subject of the sentence, or we don't need to know the subject, etc. The best thing you can do is to write so your reader forgets they are reading. Put them in your world and let them experience it. That's my belief.
Thanks for commenting. :)

Elisabeth Hirsch on June 19, 2011 at 8:34 AM said...

Great point about leaving the reader with complete understanding. That really hits home ;)

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