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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

De-Scribing: The Art of Showing

All writing classes I have ever taught begin early with the concept, "Show, don't tell." If I TELL you, "I was frightened," you have to take my word for it, but if I show you my fear (my trembling hands, my frequent gulps to get air, the pallor of my face, the blue surrounding my lips), you're going to know how terrified I am without my having to say it.

Last week I referred to Susie Henderson's discussion of "How to Write a Novel." This week let me take you to her lesson on description. While she may not have said it exactly the way I would have, I see no need to write another lesson when one this good has already been done.

Happy describing and may the muses be with you.

Try out your skill in one descriptive sentence you write yourself (mine is borrowed), together with a one- or two-word label for the genre where such a sentence might appear.

Example: Literary Fiction: "He turned and looked at her, and when he realized she was pulling his leg, his blue eyes crinkled up and he started laughing so hard that he started to cough at the same time, and she had to bang him on the back." - Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

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