Tag Archives: show don’t tell

Three Thing Thursday


No more posts from (or Kyra or Lisa or Cheryl or LoriAnne) for the rest of June! Ann Dee? What about you?

Getting ready for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers!


EVERYONE: Please read Emily Wing Smith’s book ALL BETTER NOW.



One of the biggest issues with trying to implement “show don’t tell” into our writing is defining relationships between characters. But sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. After all, we do this in real life all the time.
Go people watching sometime. See that couple, where the man is just a couple of years older than the woman? What’s their relationship? Are they brother and sister? Acquaintances? Husband and wife? On a first date?
Without even thinking about it, we put together tiny clues that let us know what’s going on between other people. The way they touch, they way they laugh, the things they say. It’s second nature to us. Granted, we’re not always right, but we are good at coming to conclusions.
Trust your readers to have the ability to come to a conclusion. When the man slides his arm around the waist of a woman and she smiles up at him, we’re going to assume they’re in a relationship. If he punches her shoulder playfully and she threatens to “tell Mom,” we’re not afraid to assume they’re brother and sister. And if they both seem awkward and unsure of what to say but can’t stop slipping each other flirty glances, it might be a budding relationship.
Learn to apply the behaviors you see in real life to your writing, then trust your reader to follow along.



Writing against a deadline is nerve-wracking, and being late on a deadline can have dire consequences. Why do some of us put ourselves in that situation again and again?

Like me today.

Some people say it’s exhilarating and they write better under pressure.

I know I do not.


One thing I struggle with is not protecting my writing time enough because I don’t want to appear selfish. It’s too easy to let small demands from family, work, church,  creep in and before you know it, that hour you set aside is swallowed up in bathing the baby, talking with that neighbor across the street who is having a hard time etc. All worthy and selfless things, but you didn’t keep your promise to yourself that day. Did you let these things become excuses for why you didn’t write?

How do you find a balance on how to be available to help others who depend on you, but also be a reliable and consistent writer? I am finding  I write more and better if I  leave my house where  family can’t find me. I can focus for a couple hours on writing.

What are your tips for how to do this? Writing late at night or early in the morning? Writing in 15-minute moments? What is your balance?

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Today’s Writing Exercise Starts Tomorrow

Over the years (lots and lots and LOTS of years), Chris Crowe has helped to bring many children and young adult  writers to Brigham Young University to read from their work.

Tomorrow is no exception (Friday, October 1, 2010). Gary Schmidt will read from his work in the Harold B. Lee library at noon. Schmidt’s won Newbery Honor twice, once for LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY and the following year (I think) for WEDNESDAY WARS. You can get your books signed right after the reading, too. He is the author of more than thirty books.

When I was getting my degree from Vermont College, I had to give a 45-minute lecture. I spoke about writing with emotion and I used Schmidt’s novel LIZZIE BRIGHT to show examples of putting emotion on the page without telling the reader what the main character is feeling.

Have you read the novel? If not, do. Check out how Schmidt controls the writing so the reader understands exactly how Turner Buckminster feels in  frightening or hilarious or terribly sad situations.

Now, look over what you’ve written. What have you learned from Schmidt? Instead of “He was scared” how can you imitate the showdon’ttell writing you see in LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY?

Getting to listen to published authors read is great fun, too. So if you have even a bit of a free moment tomorrow, come on down to Brigham Young University to hear Gary Schmidt.


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Writing Challenge: Emotions

Write 250 words or less of your protagonist in an emotional situation. Without naming the emotion, let us see what’s going on with her/him. Watch for cliches. Don’t forget set up. Let us see the whole scene, but show, don’t tell.


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