Which is harder for you? Flushing out the details of a scene, or coming up with pithy narrative summary?
Often, writers struggle with telling readers how their characters feel, rather than letting them experience their joys, sorrows, frustrations and triumphs. To see whether you’re telling instead of showing, search your manuscript for typical “telling” words, such as “feel,” “think,” or “realized.”
Re-read the word in context to decide if you’re telling the reader or showing them. If you’re telling, rewrite it so the reader experiences the emotion. To learn more, check out Janice Hardy’s book, Understanding Show Don’t Tell (and Really Getting It).
Good writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It needs direction and inspiration. Here are a few of the books I have been reading lately that have given my own writing a boost. What books have helped you improve your writing?
The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein
This book on writing has been a real gem. It covers the nuts and bolts of the process but also infuses each page with the inspiration and wonder that made me become a writer in the first place. To make things even better, the entire book is devoted to writing for children, particularly middle grade and young adult. The exercises throughout the book are particularly helpful because they focus on your work in progress instead of assigning unrelated exercises. Continue reading
I had the privilege of meeting Newbery winner Linda Sue Park when she visited my daughter’s school last month. In preparation for her visit, I re-read “A Long Walk to Water.” The novel is based on the true story of Salva Dut, one of thousands of Sudanese “Lost Boys” who were separated from their families during the country’s civil war in 1985 and traveled on foot for hundreds of desolate miles to reach a refugee camp in Ethiopia. In the story, Salva’s uncle motivates his nephew to keep putting one foot in front of the other by breaking up the daunting trek into smaller, manageable parts. Continue reading