Show, Don’t Tell: Paint a Picture with Your Words

Show, Don’t Tell: Paint a Picture with Your Words provides examples to explain the concept of show, don’t tell when writing.

You hear it all the time in fiction writing courses, and you can read about it in books on writing and on blog posts online. Show, don’t tell.

I can be kind of dense sometimes but I have to say that that often left me scratching my head. Huh? Show? Don’t tell? Whatcha talkin’ about?

But I get it now–I think!

Examples

I think a couple of examples are the best way to show you want I mean.

Example #1

Tell:
The boy walked slowly across the street to his house. He knew he was in trouble.

Show:
He was short for his age and looked even smaller in his older brother’s hand-me-down blue jeans rolled up at the legs so he wouldn’t trip. He shoved his hands into the tattered pockets and trudged across the narrow street. With hunched shoulders, he walked into the house and braced himself for the whipping his father would surely give him.

Example #2

Tell:
She was an old woman. She looked him in the eye and said thank you.

Show:
Her wrinkled skin had been damaged by the sun over her many years on this earth. She brushed a long strand of grey hair from her forehead and tried to adjust her stooped frame to look him in the eye. “Thank you,” she said, her voice barely audible.

Be Specific

Give details. Be specific. Paint a picture with your words. Avoid adverbs. (They usually end with “ly” if you’re confused about which ones are the adverbs!) Close in the gaps so that the reader knows exactly what you’re talking about and can picture it!

Do you see the difference? Do you have any other suggestions to help writers show and not tell? Tell us in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Should You Be Writing Your Book in Longhand?

Writing Your Novel in Longhand explains why some writers prefer to writing longhand and debates the pros and cons of this approach.

I started journaling again about two months ago. I’ve written diaries periodically through the years. I wrote one when I was a teenager and journaling was mandatory at the start of every English class. I’ve written travel diaries when I travelled. These assorted journals are scattered around the house, in my cedar chest, and boxes stored in the basement, but I’ve never consistently and willingly, without grades depending on it, written a journal.

But, now, every morning through the week, after eating my bowl of cereal and before I fire up the computer, let the dogs out and start into the business of my day, while the house is still quiet and I can only hear the ticking of the grandfather clock, I sit in my sunny living room and write in my journal. I write about the weather, my hopes, my dreams, my thoughts and my memories. The words just flow freely from my heart and my head onto the paper of a spiraled notebook purchased at the dollar store, so freely that I’m now considering writing the rest of the first draft of my novel the old fashioned way, with pen in hand on paper.

In high school I wrote my first serious attempt at a novel with a pencil on three ringed paper. I’d lock myself in my room for hours at a time and write and write and write until the callous on my finger was thick and tough and my fingers were cramped. The writing process was undeniably slower than typing away on a keyboard, but my focus was practically unbreakable.

But now when I try to write on the computer, the whole world is literally at my fingertips. When my concentration slips for just a minute, I find myself checking for the latest news headlines or the weather forecast or checking email. And, sometimes I find that I’m re-reading and editing my work excessively, just because I can and it’s so easy to do so.

There are a variety of websites and programs that promise to eliminate distractions. Some are free and some are paid or subscription services. I always convince myself that I don’t need to use them, that I have control and that I can write without a program to babysit me and block my access to the internet, and I don’t even realize until I’m suddenly surfing that I do need a program to babysit me and block my access to the internet—until the next time!

So my recent success with journaling has reminded me of how enthusiastic and focused I was about writing, just for the sake and pure joy of writing, without interruptions, so many years ago when I wrote with a pen and paper, and I’m seriously thinking of trying to repeat that experience. I’m thinking that I might edit it when I transcribe it on the computer. And, maybe, after doing this for a while, I will be more engaged with the creative process of writing a book and less distracted by the Internet and all that it offers, and can go back to working on a computer to write my first draft?

For More Information

It seems I’m not the only one who recognizes the joy of writing in good old fashioned longhand. For more perspectives on writing your novel in longhand, check out these articles:

Why creative writing is better with a pen
Writers Who Don’t Use Modern Technology
The Mighty Pen – The Benefits of Writing Longhand
Write or type?
Writers Writing Longhand
8 Ways Writing Longhand Frees Your Muse

So there you have it, the argument for writing without the benefits of modern technology. If you think about it, modern artists don’t make a point of using Paint Shop Pro to paint their pictures, do they? Maybe we shouldn’t be using word processors to write the first drafts of our books?

Would you consider writing your next novel in longhand? Please tell me in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

The Writer’s Knowledge Base: A Free and Valuable Resource for Writers

The Writer’s Knowledge Base: A Free and Valuable Resource for Writers discusses an amazing free resource for writers created by Elizabeth S. Craig and Mike Fleming.

Today I thought I’d share a great resource for writers. It’s called the Writer’s Knowledge Base and it’s been put together by author Elizabeth S. Craig and Mike Fleming, creator of Hiveword, a web-based novel organizer.

Elizabeth had the idea for a knowledge base based on tweets and discussed this in a blog post in 2010Writing Links Archive—an Experiment. Mike had an idea for a collecting links to great articles mentioned in tweets and between them they came up with the Writer’s Knowledge Base: The Search Engine for Writers was born.

Elizabeth collects the links from the hundreds of writing-related websites she monitors and tweets them out. Mike does the behind the scenes technical stuff to make the knowledge base site accessible to everyone online. And, we all benefit from this collaboration!

So What Can We Find in the Knowledge Base?

Lots of good stuff!

How about 3189 articles on author platform? Or, how about 5825 links to articles on point of view, 571 links for ghosts, or 187 articles on forensics for crime writers?

This is just a sample of what’s available through the database and remember, it is continually growing.

Writer’s Knowledge Base Links

Here are all the links you need to follow Elizabeth and Mike:
Twitter:
@ElizabethSCraig
@Hiveword

Facebook:
Writer’s Knowledge Base page

Blogs:
Elizabeth: Mystery Writing is Murder
Mike: Hiveword Blog

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Photo: Pixabay

What Do You Do When Life Gets Too Busy to Blog?

What Do You Do When Life Gets Too Busy to Blog? explores options for when you’re too busy to maintain your usual blog posting schedule.

As part of your author platform it’s recommended that you create and maintain a blog and publish posts on a regular schedule. Many experts believe you need to publish posts at least twice a week.

But life is busy, isn’t it? And, there’re other aspects of your author platform to maintain as well like your social media, and if you’re working, have a family or other responsibilities that take your time, that doesn’t always leave you a lot of time to blog, not to mention actually write the books you’re trying to promote with your blog and social media, does it?

I get it. I really do. For months now I’ve been blogging three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I was really proud of my efforts and that I’d been able to maintain this schedule. But these past few weeks for a variety of reasons, I’ve struggled to maintain this schedule.

So, what do you do if you can’t maintain your blogging schedule?

  • Reduce the number of posts you publish every week. If, for example, you normally publish three times a week, maybe publish posts only once or twice a week.
  • Use guest posts. Other bloggers in your social network might be willing to write for you when you’re too busy to do so in exchange for you writing guest posts for them another time when they’re too busy. There are also many freelance writers looking for opportunities to write for established blogs.

    This solution may not be ideal because it involves you having to write articles in exchange, or create guest author guidelines, and you will still have to find time to format the blog post and schedule it to run on your blog. And, depending on the guest post author, it can sometimes take longer to edit and format a post written by someone else than it does to write your own post in the first place.

  • Write extra posts when you have time to do so and save them for when you don’t have the time to write other posts. Unless you’ve had the time to write a lot of blog posts this is most likely a short term solution but depending on your circumstances that might be all that you need.
  • Try to recruit regular contributors to routinely write for your blog. You can maintain the control over your blog but create a schedule for when each regular writer contributes a post and decide what subject areas each regular writer will cover. You will have more success with enticing other writers to invest in your blog if you already have a large following, but as with guest posts, this option still involves a fair bit of work on your behalf if you have to edit and format their blog posts for publication.
  • Collaborate with other authors to form a new blog and share the responsibilities for writing the posts instead of each writer struggling to maintain their own blogs.
  • Hire help. Virtual assistants can take on a lot of the work associated with maintaining a blog. If writing the posts isn’t the part that takes the majority of your time, but researching the topic and editing and formatting the post is, a virtual assistant can help with that and free up a lot of your time. A virtual assistant can also take on the responsibility of editing and formatting your guest authors’ or contributing writers’ articles.
  • Take a blogcation. I’d suggest that this option be a last resort. The internet is full of many blogs that have gone on hiatus, have never been revived, and if you go this route you run the risk that you will lose the audience that you have worked so hard to attract. But, if you feel that you have no other option, explain to your readers what you are doing and define a time line for your return and stick to that if at all possible.

As you may have guessed there is a reason I decided to blog on this topic tonight. I need to take a bit of a break from my three times a week blogging schedule, at least through the summer. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now with personal and professional responsibilities and I also want to open an Etsy shop for vintage children’s storybooks and pattern books for knitting, crocheting and numerous other crafts. It’s also been many years since I’ve had a proper holiday and while that’s not on the horizon for me just yet (it’s very difficult to get away for an offline holiday when you’re self-employed and have a zoo full of cats and dogs like I do), I would like to lighten my load where possible, just a bit this summer in lieu of a vacation so that I can sit on my patio and read a book or something frivolous like that periodically. Life is short and it’s important to take some time out to smell those roses.

So, starting today, I plan to blog only once a week on Fridays. I hope you’ll bear with me and that I’ve give you some ideas for how to manage your own blog should you ever need a bit of a break, too, for whatever reason.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Types of Blog Posts: The Almost A to Z List!

A few weeks ago I put together a roundup post of blog post ideas. This list is similar but more generic, listing the various types of posts that you can write. This list would be appropriate for writers and just about anyone else who blogs and is looking for inspiration.

Some of these may overlap but I had fun trying to come up with a type of blog post for every letter in the alphabet and I almost succeeded!

A

  • A “Look Behind the Scenes”
  • Anecdotes
  • Announcements

B

  • Best of list

C

  • Call to action
  • Case studies
  • Cheat sheets
  • Checklists
  • Comparisons
  • Compliations
  • Contests
  • Controversial topics

D

  • Debating an issue
  • Defining terms and jargon

E

  • Encouragement
  • Entertaining (humour, parody)

F

  • Feedback
  • Follow-up posts
  • Freebies (resources, tools, etc.)
  • Frequently Asked Questions

G

  • Guest Posts

H

  • How-to’s and Tutorials
  • Humorous posts

I

  • Infographics
  • Inspirational
  • Interviews

J

  • Jokes

K

  • ??

L

  • Lists

M

  • Mailbag

N

  • News story comments

O

  • Opinion posts

P

  • Personal stories
  • Podcast show notes
  • Predictions
  • Presentations
  • Problem solving
  • Progress reports
  • Project updates

Q

  • Question and answer
  • Quizzes
  • Quotes

R

  • Reader surveys
  • Research results
  • Resources or link lists
  • Reviews
  • Roundup posts

S

  • Stories

T

  • Tips
  • To-do posts

U

  • Updates

V

  • Videos

W

  • Webinars

X, Y, Z

  • ??

As you can see, I haven’t been able to come up with any types of posts for K, X, Y or Z. Can you think of any that I can add to the list for those letters or any of the others? If so, please leave a comment.

Photo credit: Pixabay

14 Reasons Writers Write

14 Reasons Writers Write lists reasons why writers write.

When I was a young girl, I was an avid Nancy Drew fan. I would consume a book in a day. I loved mysteries and I think this greatly influenced my initial desire to write. My first serious effort was in grade six and resulted in encouragement from my teacher and I’ve been writing in some way, shape or form ever since then.

So that’s the short and sweet version of my story. But, why do others write?

Reasons Writers Write

Writers write to:

  1. Satisfy a need. For some of us, writing equates to scratching an itch.
  2. Escape from reality. When we write we can sometimes tune out everything going on around us. The tropical paradise setting of a novel can be an amazing escape from a sink full of dishes, can’t it?
  3. As an artistic outlet. Some people paint. Some people sing. Some of us write.
  4. Communicate.
  5. Influence others. Books can start trends (vampire novels or handcuffs anyone?) and share knowledge that can influence readers.
  6. Create the kind of stories they like to read. I love a really good ghost story with a great back story. The type of story that is believable, in theory, and interesting without gruesome special effects. There aren’t a lot of stories out there like this so I think I’m going to have to write my own!
  7. Silence “the voices” in their heads. Do your characters talk to you? Do you nag you to write down their stories? Mine do.
  8. Express themselves. Some people are quiet and feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts through their writing.
  9. Make sense of a situation. Ever explored your thoughts and feelings in a diary?
  10. Be happy. Some people are miserable if they don’t write regularly.
  11. Help others. When we write about our experiences and share what we know, we can sometimes assist others who are dealing with the same issues.
  12. Educate others. Others can learn from your knowledge if you write about it.
  13. Gain exposure and, maybe even fame. Some writers write because they desire this.
  14. Leave something behind. It’s a nice thought to leave something behind, even if only for our family and friends, to remember us by, isn’t it? I’d love to discover a novel written by my great-grandmother even if it was only a first draft stuffed in a shoe box in the attic.

So, can you think of any other reasons people write? Let me know in the comments so I can add it to the list.

Photo credit: Pixabay

25 e-Card Sites to Use Personally and Professionally

25 e-Card Sites to Use Personally and Professionally lists twenty-five e-card sites offering paid and/or free e-cards that you can use for special occasions or just to say thanks.

Sunday is Mother’s Day in North America and many of us are selecting gifts and cards appropriate for the occasion.

I like to send e-cards and not just for Mother’s Day. I have a subscription to an e-card site that produces some lovely cards for many different occasions and some for no occasion at all that can be sent just because. I use e-cards not only for family and friends but also, sometimes, for clients to commemorate a special occasion in their lives such as an accomplishment like a book launch, or a birthday. You could also use e-cards to thank people who reviewed your book, guest posted on your blog, or allowed you to guest post on their blog as part of a book launch.

So today I thought I’d share with you a list of e-card sites that you, too, can use. Some of these sites are free and others charge a subscription fee. A few of the sites listed below offer both free and paid e-cards.

e-Card Sites

  1. Jacquie Lawson
  2. Blue Mountain
  3. Hallmark e-Cards
  4. card karma
  5. DaySpring
  6. Jib Jab
  7. Nature Canada
  8. American Greetings
  9. 123 Greetings
  10. Someecards
  11. Rattlebox
  12. Smilebox
  13. MoMA
  14. Ojolie
  15. Celebrations
  16. Care2
  17. Punchbowl
  18. Just Wink
  19. Doozy Cards
  20. Regards.com
  21. E-Cards
  22. WWF Free e-Cards
  23. The Nature Conservancy
  24. Fleeting Greetings
  25. SOS Children’s Villages

Do you have a favourite site that should be added to the list? If so, let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Dropcards for e-Books: Digital Downloads with a Difference

Dropcards for e-Books: Digital Downloads with a Difference explores the digital download options available through Dropcards.

This article first appeared on The Book Designer. If you’ve published an e-book and are looking for unique ways to sell and market it, I think you’ll find this article quite interesting!


 
A couple of years ago I wrote an article for The Book Designer about some of the options that were available to authors of e-books for distributing their e-books through bookstores and at booksignings (E-books For Real: E-book Gift Cards from Livrada and Enthrill.)

Recently I had the pleasure to speak with Steve Ceragno of Dropcards.com about what Dropcards can offer authors and small publishers when it comes to digital downloads for their e-books.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • You’ve written an e-book and you want to:
    • make it available to reviewers.
    • sell it at bookstores.
    • sell it at booksignings.
    • give away another book, perhaps a prequel in your series along with the latest book.
    • serialize it and make it available to your readers a chapter at a time.

  • You’d like add a video greeting to the readers of your e-book to introduce yourself or maybe give them a peek into your secret world where you write your books.

Guess what? It’s all possible!

Dropcard offers the following options:

  • Plastic gift cards
  • Plastic gift cards with concealed codes that can be scratched off (like scratch and win lottery tickets) for bookstore sales. (Additional cost)
  • Eco-friendly biodegradable gift cards
  • Lanyards
  • Digital codes that you can send out via email.

The gift cards usually feature the artwork for the e-book cover but Dropcards is open to exploring other ideas for graphics on their cards.

Dropcards cards

Examples of Dropcards

A website landing page is created by Dropcards for each digital download, or, if authors and publishers prefer, they can embed the digital code redemption box onto their own existing websites. (Embedding the digital code redemption box is basically the same process as embedding a YouTube video onto a website if you’ve ever done that.)

Dropcard redemption box

Example of a Digital Code Redemption Box

You can find a couple of examples of landing pages by Dropcards here:

If you prefer, a custom website can be done for an additional fee. Steve showed me an example of a custom site where the author had included cover art for two more of his books on the site with links to Amazon where they could be purchased. I thought that was a great idea!

The digital redemption codes (on gift cards or for emails) are good for two years, but Dropcards is open to extending if necessary. And, if you change or update the content, the redemption codes can be re-used to download the edited or new content.

Hosting Your Digital Files

Dropcards offers up to 500MB of hosting space for your digital files with a standard package. But, here’s the good part: You can use this space for pretty much any type of downloadable digital file!

So, that could include audio books, e-books in whatever format you’d care to offer them (epub, mobi, itunes…), video, images, you name it!

And, if you’re writing an e-book and you want to serialize it and make it available to your readers a chapter at a time. – You can change the content that is being hosted by Dropcards and your readers can re-use the redemption code to download the next chapter.

Setting Up an Account with Dropcards

  1. Go to Dropcards.com and create an account.
  2. Decide what type of card you’d like to use for your project.
  3. Order your Dropcards and upload the graphics you want to use for your cards so Dropcards can begin work on your project. (You don’t need to upload your book media at this time, you can upload ANYTIME, even after you have the cards in-hand.)
  4. Within 24 hrs of receiving your order Dropcards will send you a proof.
  5. Once you approve the proof, Dropcards will ship your cards within 4 -8 business days from our New Jersey facility.

Continue reading “Dropcards for e-Books: Digital Downloads with a Difference”

Twitter: Jazz It Up With Special Characters

Twitter: Jazz It Up With Special Characters – If you have noticed Twitter profiles and tweets containing images or special characters and wanted to use them, too, read this article.

Have you ever noticed on Twitter how some profiles and tweets contain images or special characters? Have you ever wanted to use them, too, and wondered how to do it?

If you’re nodding your head and answering “Yes” to the above questions, you’ll be happy to know that you can find the answers right here!

Special Characters for Twitter

Check out these articles for more information:

And, this Chrome browser extension might be helpful for jazzing up things on Twitter, too:

If you decide to add special characters to your profile or tweets on Twitter, let me know in the comments below or follow me on Twitter: @ShelleySturgeon.

5 LinkedIn Groups for Writers

5 LinkedIn Groups for Writers discusses the differences between open and members only groups on LinkedIn and lists five groups for writers.

LinkedIn can be a great place to connect with people you know through your professional associations, but did you know that you can join discussion groups through LinkedIn related to writing, editing and publishing?

Groups can be either “open” or “members only.”

In both cases you have to have a LinkedIn account to join a LinkedIn group.

Differences Between Open and Members Only Groups

Open groups
Information discussed in open groups can be accessed through search engines and shared on Twitter, Facebook and similar social media sites.

Members only groups
Information exchanged on members only groups is only accessible by members of the group and cannot be shared on social media.

Each group has an owner. This is usually the person who starts the group who establishes the specific focus and the rules for that group. The groups allow for discussion and promotion (see the rules), and you can quickly determine by selecting the “Members” option for the group, if any of your LinkedIn connections belong to the group. You may also search through the discussions if you’re looking for a particular topic.

LinkedIn Groups for Writers

  1. Book Writing, Self Publishing, and Marketing for Business People – This group has 12,000+ members and offers connections and advice related to writing, marketing and publishing your book.
  2. All things writing, journaling, creative, non-fiction, blogging – This networking group of nearly 9,000 members offers information and support to all kinds of writers.
  3. Let’s Talk About Writing – This group discusses the craft of writing including the actual writing process and techniques, editing, illustrations, etc. There’s just shy of 6,000 members in this group.
  4. The Craft of Writing Fiction – This group discusses the general aspects of writing fictions such as plot, characters, etc. It has nearly 2,000 members.
  5. StyleWriter 4 Really Readable Writing! – This group is devoted to practising plain English by doing the “Readable Writing CHALLENGE.” So if your writing skills need a bit of help, this group might be just the ticket. It has 1,000+ members.

You can find more information about finding a group on LinkedIn here.

Or, why not start your own group?

Do you belong to any LinkedIn groups or think you might join one? Tell me in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay