Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Don't Hold Back

I'm writing my first YA sex scene. Yikes! I think there's a fine line between describing too much and not enough. Kids know what's going on. In middle school I was reading Judith McNaught novels. I knew what was going on, and that was before the widespread use of the Internet.

But as I was writing it, I found myself taming it down, and losing something.

My day job is a creative position as well, involving product and packaging design. When I first started working here, I was designing a box and trying to be conscious of the color usage because more colors means higher cost. The marketing manager at the time said to me, "Don't worry about that. Let the printer worry about it how to make it work. That's their job. Your job is to design."

She was right and that stuck with me. My job is to design. So I do, using as many colors as I want, and after it's done we work with the printer to see what we have to change to get the cost down, and sometimes we don't change anything because the box is that good.

It's true with writing too. My job is to write, and in a first round, I should include as many details as I feel necessary to describe the scene. Later I can edit it down, or I can decide to keep it as is, and let my crit partners or agent tell me to cut it. If I limit myself in the beginning, I'll never know what the scene could have been, what it would look like with six colors instead of two, which might be worth the extra cost.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Show vs. Tell: Examples

I haven't posted a lot of my writing up here. I like to play things close to the chest, but I'm working on a new piece and thought I'd post a couple of excerpts because I think they're good examples of show vs. tell.

Example 1:
This is the first line of my new work:
Only in Scott’s Valley, Connecticut would kids stand outside in the misting April rain to get into a barn.

One sentence and you learn it's a small town, probably remote and farm-ish, and the MC is not too happy about being there.

A really bad example of telling:
Scott's Valley, Connecticut is a small town. The biggest event to happen is a barn party. I hate it here.

Example 2:
When we are introduced to Hallie:
I find Hallie with her arms draped around a boy, one our mom would love, with long hair and fake tattoos drawn on his arms in Sharpie marker. They’re using the cramped quarters as an excuse to dance with their bodies pressed together.

Here we learn Hallie and the MC are sisters, and Hallie has a taste for bad boys.

A really bad example of telling:
Hallie is my sister and always picks the wrong guys to date.

Example 3:
Showing in dialogue.
"I would tell you to get my good side, except I don’t have one. They’re both equally appealing.”

This character is attractive, knows it, and isn't ashamed to tell everyone he knows it.

A really bad example of telling:
He is conceited.

I love show vs. tell examples. If you have some good ones, please share in the comments!