Show Don't Tell: But How? by Mickey J Corrigan

  This week we have author Mickey J Corrigan. She talks about Show Don't Tell. She also has a new book out, The Physics of Grief.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes tropical noir with a dark humor. Novels include Project XX about a school shooting (Salt Publishing, UK, 2017) and What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, UK, 2019).

Social media links:

www.mickeyjcorrigan.com

http://mickeyjcorrigan.tumblr.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/Mickey_J_Corrigan

 


Show Don't Tell: But How?

The best way to write fiction or narrative nonfiction is to create a movie screenplay but in beautiful, readable prose. Sound difficult? Well, yeah. But what you are trying to do is incredibly hard. Because ultimately you want to recreate your own imaginings or memories in someone else's head. Yikes.

The most successful writers provide us with stories we can fall into as if we'd lapsed into a dream. This means as a writer you will want to be able to convey your story so that your readers can dream it. Or at least see it in their own mind as if watching a film.

How do you accomplish this? The key is to give readers as much detail as may be required for them to see and feel and experience your story to the maximum effect. This means you must continuously set the scene. And every time the action shifts, you will set a new scene. So you set the scene when you begin the story, for each chapter, and with every new section in a chapter. The story does not tell, it shows as you make sure the reader knows who the characters are, where they are, what they are doing and feeling and experiencing. You share myriad details so the reader is invited—no, lured into each scene: the smells, sights, tastes, sounds. The clammy fish-scented sea air. The purpling sky at dusk. The bitter tang of bile. The screech of a lone owl in the ice-crusted woods. The biting wind, the scratch of his Irish knit sweater when it brushes against the flushed skin of her face.

In addition to writing crime novels, I help other writers by editing their manuscripts. One of my most common suggestions is to set the scene. Writers will begin a chapter by recounting a narrator's or protagonist's thoughts. This is telling, and the reader is left wondering: Where is this person? Are they driving in a speeding car, running through an urban park, hiding in a walk-in closet, drinking gimlets in a dark bar? Don't leave it up to your readers to create the scenes. Don't leave them sitting in a movie theater with a blank screen in front of them while you narrate your (boring) story.

And please don't begin your memoir, story, novel, or chapter with backstory. Backstory is telling. Start with the showy action. Readers these days are not going to give your book much (if any) time to draw them in. You have to grab their short-lived attention at once—then you must keep it. How? Start with a hook, a good strong scene that leaves readers curious. Give them a delightful, naughty, mysterious, or otherwise delectable taste so they can't stop. Hook them fast and you can reel them in slowly. You can insert your backstory in between all the intrigue, action, romance, and plot devices you use to keep them reading.

This is not easy. Readers these days can swipe away your book and pick up a remote. Ho hum, on to more enticing entertainment. You didn't work so hard all this time to end up with that kind of audience reaction! So be sure your storytelling skills are sharp as talons as you show, not tell, your story.


 Latest book from Mickey J Corrigan




When Seymour Allan loses his girlfriend, his depression is as dark as a South Florida thunderstorm. He hides out in a retirement community, drinks too much, and hangs with a feral cat. But when he meets the mysterious Raymond C. Dasher, Seymour's life changes as he embarks on a new career: professional griever.

Seymour's depression lifts when he spends time at the wakes and funerals of some very unpopular people. He cares for a dying criminal who loves T.S. Eliot and refuses to pass on, and he attends some unique burials that may or may not be legal. He also meets Yvonne, a sexy redhead dealing with the loss of her mobster boyfriend. Out in the Everglades, he has to face down a group of armed mourners and an alligator in attack mode.

Nothing like sex and danger, guns and gators, to make a man remember how good it feels to be alive.

The Physics of Grief is a unique, quirky crime novel presenting the upside of funerals and a hopeful look at second chances—and at death.

 

Buy on:

Amazon Kindle         Amazon Paperback

Amazon UK              Amazon Aust



27 comments:

  1. Sounds like a must read! Love the cover.

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  2. Great post. Your descriptions are awesome.
    PHYSICS sounds like a keeper. Wishing you much success.
    Thanks for featuring, Kelly.

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  3. What an interesting premise.
    Good luck with book sales!

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  4. Great ideas!! I'm not a naturally visual person so I have to be conscious of adding those visual details. Emotional details are much easier for me :)

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    1. Some writers complete a draft, then go back to add in all the visuals. A bestselling author told me he does this when he writes his novels. Not a bad idea!

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  5. Oh yes, starting with backstory is the kiss of death. Too much, and I don't get much further in the book.

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    1. I'm with you. Unless the writing just sweeps you up in its uniqueness or beauty, the mind wanders...

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  6. Thank you for sharing your expertise. :)

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    1. I tell my editing clients this stuff all the time. It seems to help them to write like they are describing in words a movie they've been watching--only the film is rolling in their own mind.

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  7. Hi Nas, Kelly and thank you Mickey for giving us such succinct thoughts on memoir writing ... I don't write books per se ... but I so agree with your advice ... and sometimes I come away from a movie, having seen the book - but then as you mention above ... the film rolls on. Thanks - great ideas here - cheers Hilary

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  8. Thanks for sharing all your advice! I don't write "books", but found your information very good!! All the best on your book!!!

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Excellent point about showing not telling to reel people into your story. I like your cover, title, and intriguing storyline. Wishing you all the best! Thank you Kelly & Mickey!

    Julie

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    1. I will tell the publisher you liked the cover! And thanks for your kind comments.

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  11. Piękna okładka. Podziwiam

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  12. Hello. Nice to know that book

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  13. thank you for sharing important point of how to be writer...

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  14. Definitely important to show and not tell. Good advice!

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  15. Great advice and something I continue to work on! :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Me too. I need to continually review to see where I forgot to show, not tell.

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  16. Sounds great

    Kisses
    www.pimentadeacucar.com

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