Saturday, December 8, 2012

The three most important words for writing fiction

Show, don't tell.

(Unless otherwise credited, the selections are my own writing.)

Example #1
Version 1.
Trace entered the expensive hotel room and shut the door. He took off his coat and lay down on the bed. He was angry.  He had been out in the cold weather until he was almost frozen.  There was snow on his jacket and his boots were muddy.  And the man he had been chasing had gotten away from him.
Version 2.

Trace stormed into the suite's lavish bedroom and slammed the door behind him. Chunks of half-melted snow flew from his jacket as he ripped the garment off and flung it in the general direction of a small, brocade upholstered chair he passed on his way to the bed. Without a single thought to the mess his muddy boots and pants might make on the white satin spread, Trace collapsed backward onto the bed and lay, spread-eagled, staring blindly at the ceiling.
"I lost the son of a bitch."
Example #2
Version 1.
O'Leary was driving way too fast.  Nonie begged him to slow down.
    "I don't want to get there too late," O'Leary growled.
    He ran another red light.  He should have turned at that intersection and saved an extra three blocks, but he wanted to make the big SUV at the light wait.
    Nonie tried not to grab the armrest when he finally did turn down another street.  His comment hadn't made much sense to her but his comments rarely did.
    "I want to get there before all the evidence is cleaned up.  Homicide will be in charge and we'll just be consultants," he complained.
     "You don't care about the evidence," Nonie accused.  "You just want to get a good look at the body."
     He turned the car to the left again.  This time she grabbed the armrest.
Version 2.
"For God's sake, John, slow down."
     She hated these off-hours calls that gave him an excuse to drive more like an escaping criminal than a veteran detective.
     "They'll have everything mopped up if we get there too late."
     He blew through another red light, the second of the morning.
     "You should have turned back there," she pointed out. "Now you'll have to go three blocks out of your way."
     "Yeah, I know, but I wanted to make that big black Denali sit out the light."
     She sighed and tried not to grab the armrest when he finally turned left down a side street. After ten years riding with O'Leary, she expected his irrational answers to simple questions, but they still never made any sense.  Not at first, anyway.
     "Look, Nonie, they killed the clerk. Homicide's gonna take this one over, and we won't be nothin' but underpaid consultants. I wanna get there before they clean up all the good evidence."
     "Evidence! When did you ever give a damn about evidence? You just want a good look at the corpse."
     He spun the wheel sharply to the left again. She grabbed the armrest this time.

Are you getting the idea? 

Example #3.
"Lord, but I hate Saturday nights!"
     In the dark alley behind the Red Hat Saloon, Sunny McAllister tugged at the drooping flounce on her black dress, but the fabric refused to stretch any further.
     "Damn!" she swore quietly when an autumn breeze coming down from the mountains raised goosebumps. The dress left her arms and shoulders and too much bosom exposed; she wrapped her arms around herself and swung her long, straight black hair over her shoulders for warmth. The inside of the Red Hat would be much warmer than the alley, but Sunny didn't want to go in any sooner than necessary.  To keep warm, she paced nervously back and forth outside the back door, dreading the moment when she would have to go in and yet wishing it would come so that she could get the evening over that much sooner.

Example #4.
 “Sophie, darling, take a deep breath, wipe the tears off your face and tell me what's happened,” Rina purred in a kind, firm voice.
       Sophie woodenly obeyed, picking up her napkin, wiping her face and discreetly blowing her nose.
     “I'm not sure I want to tell you.” The tears wouldn’t stop coming. Disgusted with herself, she straightened up, tucked her wavy blond hair behind her ears, glanced at Rina, and then let her gaze fall on her chef salad.
      Her favorites as far as salads went with juicy red tomatoes, cooked hard-boiled eggs, and crumbled bacon blending tastefully with the crunchy green lettuce and sweet, crisp carrot slices tossed with chunks of ham and turkey. A fiesta of flavor with every bite, she thought woefully, knowing she wasn't going to enjoy a single bite. “I’m not quite ready to divulge the details of my pathetic life, Rina.”
    Workman, RaShelle (2011-12-16). Sleeping Roses (Dead Roses) (p. 6). Polished Pen Press. Kindle Edition.
 Example #5
This was not her fight, it never had been. But somehow the man named Demyan, the evil man with the glowing eyes, had found her and had known about her ability. He’d forced her from France, to India, willing to use her for his own gain even if it meant she must betray her half-brother, Colin.
       Not that Colin knew he was her brother. No, he was completely oblivious and she sure as hell wasn’t going to admit their relation. He’d want to do something honorable, like support her and Maman. She had other plans, plans that didn’t involve a family she barely knew. And so, when she’d met him for the first time just moments ago, she’d kept her mouth shut about their shared blood, and merely pointed him in the direction of Demyan. And when she’d seen her father for the first time in over fourteen years and he hadn’t recognized her, she had ignored the sting.
      He’d had no interest in her, only his treasures. Good against evil and all for a ridiculous statue. The moment Colin and her father left, she’d darted out of the temple and had crawled under the rock. They might think they were getting the treasure, but she knew the truth.

Brighton, Lori  (2011-12-09). Wild Passion, Story 3 in the Wild Series (Kindle Locations 78-87).  . Kindle Edition.

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