For my fabulous, albeit late, giveaway, the winner is Morgan Mussell!! Congratulations to you, Morgan. I will be sending you a copy of Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator. It’s a funny book and I think you’ll love it. I have another giveaway for today, so stay tuned.
I want to write today about writing rules. There are a lot of them, but perhaps the biggest one pushed by just about everyone I can think of is “Show – Don’t Tell.” I remember when I was teaching, one of my colleagues stated that her students just couldn’t stand a story that had any telling in it, that they would refuse to read such books. I asked what novels she was teaching, and they were mostly new. She pretty much ignored the classics. No Lord of the Flies for her kids. No To Kill a Mockingbird or Fahrenheit 451. I read some of the books she was teaching and felt they were pretty lightweight, short on symbolism, strong themes, and richness of writing, and was saddened that her kids missed out on such great books as I mentioned above. But, heck, those old books sure did have an awful lot of telling in them. Lots of exposition and lots and lots of narration. Shameful!
I recently had a chance to workshop the first chapter of my middle-grade novel on a blog. It was an interesting experience. I got lots of nice comments, followed by admonitions about too much telling and not enough showing. I think the chapter got better in some ways, but, honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot of tellin’ goin’ on to start with. Sometimes I think it’s a knee jerk reaction in the business of critique.
Back in April, I wrote a post about narration and about how a couple of books I’d read by Michael Morpugo were almost entirely narration and – hold onto your hats, now – I loved them. It didn’t bother me at all. I’ve been reading a lot lately. (You may have noticed I haven’t been writing much in the way of blog posts!) I’m finding that many really wonderful books have an awful lot of tellin’ goin’ on.
I ran across an article by Lee Child that Writer’s Digest posted and found it really refreshing. Now this is a guy who know a thing or two about getting pages turning! The title of the article is Lee Child Debunks the Biggest Writing Myths. You can find it by clicking HERE. You will have to click away an ad for Writer’s Digest, but it’s worth it. He reminds us that nobody ever asks anyone to SHOW them a story. They ask to have someone TELL them a story, and that’s just fine. It’s worth your time to read what Child has to say.
I’m reading a book right now that is almost all telling and am enjoying every page. Oh, there’s enough showing to keep the story moving at a rapid pace, but there’s a whole lot of telling and, frankly, that keeps the pace rapid too. It’s a YA about a teenager, Jazz, whose father was the most notorious serial killer of all time, and Jazz has to figure out who he is and whether or not he is destined to become like his father. And, just to make things interesting, there’s a new serial killer in town. Great premise, eh? It’s by Barry Lyga and the title is I Hunt Killers. As soon as I post this, I’ll be getting back to it. If you like Murder and Mayhem, as do I, you will love this book.
I think the whole Show – Don’t Tell thing has gotten a little out of hand. People of all ages love to have stories told to them. So, I’m just suggesting people shouldn’t get their panties in too much of a bunch about some well-written exposition or narration. Just relax and tell your story!
On to my giveaway for this post. I reviewed a book a while ago for the Sacramento Book Review called Just Write, Here’s How! by Walter Dean Myers. Myers has written a TON of very successful YA and Tween books. I’ve read and enjoyed many. So if someone has some good ideas about writing, it might well be him. If you’d like to read my review, click HERE. This is for writers of all ages, so even if you aren’t a writer, if there is a young person in your life who might like to write, you can pass this along. If you leave a comment, I’ll put your name in the hat. If you post a link to my blog on your blog or Facebook or some other such thing, let me know and I’ll put your name in the hat again. And even though I’m on summer hours and not posting too often, I promise I won’t wait too long again on a giveaway.