Monday, March 22, 2010

What I've learned. It Took Me Long Enough!

It wasn't until I wrote five books that I finally figured out how to write (and I know enough now to understand that I still have a long way to go!). I reread my earlier stuff and am embarrassed for myself! I thought those first four were SOOOOOO GOOOOOOD! It is amazing what years of dedication and practice will do to a writer! Here are a couple things I learned.

-Show vs Tell. Yep. Pretty sad that it took me five years to get this. Here's an example of my telling... "She was too scared to turn around." Ugh! And here's the show... "Holding my breath, I dare the quickest of glances behind me."

-Less is more. Because it really is! Think Twilight vs Hunger Games. Twilight is a great story about Edward and Bella... with a whole heck of a lot of stuff thrown in the middle. Seriously. I skip ALL the extra high school stuff--my own personal version of the Readers Digest condensed version. But Hunger Games? Genius. Not a single extra word. Or scene. Or chapter. Or entire year of boring high school.

A few posts about Show vs Tell here and here and even here.

Well, enough of all this blabbering on! I'm taking up too much of your precious time. Go write something! Or cut out those extra words in your WIP! Seriously! Go on! Get outta here!

~Bethany

37 comments:

bookaholic said...

I can assure you one thing,that what you said wasn't blabbering at all. I mean seriously,I totally and completely agree with you :)

lbdiamond said...

LOL! I feel the same way--I LOVED my first novels (and still do), but the writing...*swoon* Embarrassed doesn't even cover it.

It feels good to know I'm not the only one. Looks like it's all part of the growing pains. But it's so worth it.

GREAT POST!

OfficeGirl said...

Awesome Post! I am still working on the show vs. tell. It is a tricky bitch. Sometimes I do it without even knowing it. Thats why my novel is taking so long..I end up editing out all the stupid extra words and all my telling not showing...cool post!

Susan Erickson said...

oh ya...we do get better...but it takes a lot of tries to get there. I'm still working on the first novel...second rewrite.....

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I sure know that feeling! When I went back through and cringed at the creative dialogue tags, the omniscient POV, and the abundant adverbs!

Jen said...

What a fantastic post!!! I'm currently on my first draft and almost done *jumping for joy* so I plan on revising and taking the sentences and making them more active if I haven't. I'm shooting for Hunger games rather than Twilight!!

Thanks for the links!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Fantastic post. With you on the Hunger Games, one of my favourite books ever!
Thanks for the links.

Laura Pauling said...

And the amazing thing is that in the beginning I learned all these concepts but it took another couple years until I figured out how to apply it to my work - I mean really appply it.

Candyland said...

The learning never stops. Glad to hear it happens with the pros, and not just me:)

Lisa K. said...

I view my earliest novels the same way...a learning experience. With every novel I write, I feel like I'm learning something new and improving my craft.

JEM said...

I'm aware of the concept of show vs. tell, but it's still quite difficult to make out the difference, or when one is acceptable over the other. I've been reading for so long that I tend to write what "feels" right without really knowing the reasoning behind it. I guess that's what editing is for...

Lydia Kang said...

One great thing about writing is I've become a much better beta reader. I can see the show vs tell thing so much better. ANd it makes me "tell" less in in my writing now...very circular.

A. Grey said...

I'm on book six. The first one shall never see daylight. The four after it stand a chance - with HEAVY rewriting... The sixth? Well, several agents have liked it... not that they've offered to represent me, but considering the books I wrote just to get the experience to write this one... I'm hopeful and happy, and still writing.

All I can say after reading your post and everyones comments is: Go Us! :D Life is a journey, after all, you can't very well start out at your destination.

Southpaw said...

Two great points! Here to getting it right.

Theresa Milstein said...

Me too! I had a hard time with show and not tell. Here's a post I wrote about the subject:
http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com/2009/10/show-and-tell.html

Jemi Fraser said...

It's fun looking back at my older, scarier stuff. I don't view it often, but I'm glad I didn't delete it all. At least I know I've made progress :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL. I learned some bad things about writing from Twilight and now I'm trying to unlearn them. Boy, what a different it's making in my ms. For some reason I didn't clue in that a single word can still be telling. Groan.

KrysteyBelle said...

Thanks so much for the links. They were really helpful.

Oh, and I skip parts of the Twilight novels too, particularly in Eclipse. I really didn't need Rosalie and Jasper to have their own chapter devoted to their back stories. And the bonfire stories? No thanks.

Jana Hutcheson said...

Thanks for the post! I needed the encouragement. :)

Elana Johnson said...

Oh, this post speaks to my soul. I've written like 12 books. 2 of them are good. The other 10? Practice novels. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of words, a lot of hours to improve.

Excellent post, B!

Alicia J. Frey said...

It took me a while to even understand what that meant. I mean we are storytellers, right? LOL.

Christine Fonseca said...

So so so so true!!! and yeah, less is MORE!

SB said...

hilarious post! I was once a wordy girl. well, still am. but know the importance of brevity. And knowing is half the battle, no?


not too serious i hope

Natalie said...

Amen! Less is always more. I know a book is boring when I start skimming. I hope no one ever wants to skim my books (but I'm sure they will!) My first manuscript is PAINFUL to read, and that's mostly because of all the telling.

KM said...

Same here. I dug up my first MS and cringed a little. I was a horrible head hopper. At one point, I think I was in a dog's head. lol

I have to say, however, that I sometimes like a slower-paced novel like "Twilight." It feels reminiscient to my beloved classics, which were more leisurely. Normally, I would say less is more...but I do like some "monotony" at times. :)

Cheree said...

You're not blabbering. I totally agree with you. I've read several novels where all I can think about is 'what is the point of this scene?' I guess I just like the fast-paced, straight to the point novels.

Carolyn V. said...

I totally agree with the show vs. tell! It makes all the difference!

Five books?! Yay! I'm almost there. =)

Crimey said...

Show not tell, that's the old kicker and I think it still sneaks into our writing if we're not looking out for it.

cheyanneyoung said...

Great post! I totally agree with that Twilight crap, way too much filler.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I learn more about both of those every single day, I think. This writing stuff is tough! :-)

Falen said...

i always thought it was super ironic that everyone always said, show dont' tell, but no one ever showed me how to do it.
So, because of that, it took me a long time to figure that out too

Bethany Wiggins said...

Falen, I know what you mean! IF someone would have sat me down when I first started writing and shown me the difference... Then again, I could have just asked. But I'm one of those people who assume they already know everything and find out the hard way that they don't!

Palindrome said...

I agree with Falen. There's a lot of telling but not a lot of showing people how to not do that so thank you for this!

Now I'm off to write!!

OfficeGirl said...

Hey Bethany! Gave you an award check check check it out!

L.T. Elliot said...

Brilliant! And you're right about Hunger Games. That's some well used page space, I'll tell you!

G said...

More likely than not, I'll be doing one ginormous editing job once I finish my current W.i.P....which comes on the heels of my habit of editing before I continue the next particular section of my book (which is finally in the home stretch, yay!)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

I reread my stuff every day and feel embarrassed. LOL!