Author J. K. Coi Talks About Showing Vs Telling and Giveaway!

Please welcome author J. K. Coi! She has a Kindle copy giveaway for one commenter of her latest release, In Bed With The Competition!

Over to J. K. Coi now...

Hello there! Thank you so much for letting me visit today!

When I think about the lessons I’ve learned over the years as a writer, there are obviously a ton of them, but the one that was hardest for me to really get was, I think, the one about showing v. telling.

It’s one of those things that you think you’re doing until you realize…you’re not doing it. But how do you know, and how do you fix it?

The best way to examine this is with an actual snippet of writing:

Jennifer waited impatiently for the bus. She really wanted to go shopping, but the bus was running late and if it didn’t arrive in the next five minutes, the mall would close before she got there.

Leaving aside what we might think personally about the subject matter or context, how does this feel to you?

It does its job adequately enough. I mean, we get a pretty clear picture of what’s going on and what this character wants. We can deduce from just these two sentences that Jennifer is a teenage girl trying to get to the mall, but fears the bus won’t get her there in time. We maybe even sense a little about her background and circumstances from the fact that she’s going shopping without a gaggle of girlfriends along with her, and the fact that she has to take the bus.

But at the same time, the scene falls a little flat. Why? Because the passage TELLS the reader what’s going on, instead of SHOWING the reader the character.

So, how could we do it better? How about something like this?

Jennifer tapped her foot and pulled out her cell phone again, glancing at the time shining up at her from the screen. Damn it. If the bus was any later, she wouldn’t make it to the mall before closing.

There’s a difference in these two samples. Can you tell what it is?

The second sample tells almost the exact same story as the first one, but it feels a lot closer to Jennifer. Instead of saying that she’s impatient and saying that she wants to go shopping but the bus is late, the reader is shown these things by Jennifer’s body language and action. Also, her thoughts are part of the action, bringing us into her head without making it feel like exposition.

The trick is to remember that whenever you can show the reader what’s going on instead of spelling it out for them, that’s a good thing. Always consider how a character’s body language could convey their feelings, and how a person’s dialogue can have underlying meaning. Just like in real life.

So, that’s my tip for the day! 

J.K. Coi



This rivalry is too hot for the tropics…

Elizabeth Carlson and Ben Harrison used to be friends, coworkers...and almost lovers. But that was before Ben proposed mixing business with pleasure. Elizabeth refuses to lose her heart to a hotshot tycoon with a cutthroat, take-no-prisoners attitude. Not with the prospect of starting her own company at stake.

Driven to succeed in all areas of his life, Ben couldn’t resist the temptation to make Liz his. But then she walked away, igniting a bitter rivalry. Competing for the same contract at a Caribbean conference ignites sparks too hot to ignore, and Ben’s determined to finish what they started, even if it’ll only last a few steamy, tropical nights.

Elizabeth’s resolve begins to crumble under Ben’s blatant seduction. Can she walk away from a hot island fling with the sexiest man she’s ever known with her heart intact, or will losing herself in Ben destroy everything she’s fought to achieve?




20 comments:

  1. Great example! This is definitely something good to remember!

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    1. Hi Meradeth, thanks so much for dropping by :)

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  3. I always need to do an editing round focusing on rooting out the 'tell' - great tip! :)

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    1. Hi Jemi!! I'm a huge fan of multiple editing rounds dedicated to focusing on different things.

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  4. Hello, J.K. Best of luck on your latest release.

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  5. Great tips and example about show-don't-tell, JK. Wishing you much success with your novel! :)

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  6. immersing yourself in the scene helps with showing, definitely! great talk about show v tell!

    and kelly, thanks for commenting at crystal's on my broken branch falls blog tour!

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  7. That was a great example of showing and not telling!

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  8. Ooh! I must be making the rounds today. Great post and examples!

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    1. Thanks Tara, Sherry and Crystal!

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  9. There are tons of posts on Showing vs Telling, but honestly, yours is one of the clearest, yet briefest articles I've ever read. Bravo.

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    1. I appreciate the compliment Joylene! Thanks!

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  10. I love this comparison. I just read a book that was telling WAY too much. It took me a while to realize that was what the problem is. You usually don't recognize it as such when you're reading it--you just know it isn't powerful writing.

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  11. Great advice and the example really hits the point home. I know it is something I have been working on, and I love every reminder I see on the topic! Thanks, J.K. Best of luck!

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  12. Thank you both Jess and Stephanie! Have a great weekend!!

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