#writingtips from #reading #DonaldMaass to cope with #showdonttell, and a call to #vote for my #fantasy #shortstory!

Hullo hullo! I hope you’re healthy and safe, wherever you are. Today was…well, it was a Monday, make no mistake. But we did get through the morning, and I did get to work this afternoon on revising a short story to be submitted to local publisher Something Or Other Publishing (SOOP).

For those who recall my Free Fiction installments from oh so long ago, there was a tale called “The Final Tampering of Madame Midsomer.” I’ve been spending some time revamping this tale for a submission to one of SOOP’s anthologies, and the submission is now complete! All that’s left is for you, dear readers, to vote.

Please click here to vote for my story to be selected for publication!

I didn’t just want this post to be a “meet MY needs” kind of post, though. Tonight while slurping down some reheated beef soup I was paging through Donald Maass’ The Emotional Craft of Fiction and came across a page that all writers could appreciate.

(Well, all writers could appreciate this entire book, but that goes without saying.)

This excerpt comes from the chapter “Inner versus Outer” discussing that ever-nasty writer problem of showing vs. telling. Enjoy!

Writing out what characters feel ought to be a shortcut to getting readers to feel that stuff too, shouldn’t it? You’d think so. After all, it’s through characters that we experience a story. Their experience is ours. Actually, the truth is the opposite. Put on the page what a character feels and there’s a pretty good chance that, paradoxically, what the reader will feel is nothing.

Here’s an example: His guts twisted in fear. When you read that, do your own guts twist in fear? Probably not. Or this: Her eyes shot daggers at him. Do you feel simmering rage? Meh. Not so much.

Such feelings fail to excite us because, of course, we’ve read them too many times. Those daggers have dulled. What gets readers going are feelings that are fresh and unexpected. Yet those feelings also need to be real and true; otherwise, they will come across as contrived–they’ll ring false and fail to ignite the reader’s emotions. ….

Human beings are complex. We have emotions on the surface and emotions underneath. There are emotions that we minimize, hide, and deny. There are emotions that embarrass us, reveal too much, and make us vulnerable. Our emotions can be profoundly trivial or so elevated that they’re silly. What we feel is unescapably influenced by our history, morals, loyalties, and politics.….

We’re clear. We’re vague. We hate. We love. We feel passionately about our shoes yet shrug off disasters on TV. We are finely tuned sensors of right and wrong, and horrible examples for our kids. We are walking contradictions. We are encyclopedias of the heart. ….

With so much rich human material to work with, it’s disappointing to me that so many manuscripts offer a limited menu of emotions. I want to feast on life, but instead I’m standing before a fast-food menu, my choices limited to two patties or one, fries or medium or large. …They work only with primary emotions because that is what everyone feels, which is true, but this is also a limited view.

So how does one create emotional surprise?

Be obvious and tell readers what to feel, and they won’t feel it. Light an unexpected match, though, and readers will ignite their own feelings, which may well prove to be the ones that are primary and obvious. third-level emotions. That’s the effective way of storytelling.

Gosh, I love this book. I’m going to keep stealing time away to re-read Maass whenever the kids are busy with school stuff. Craft-talk like this does wonders to the creative fire, especially when it’s revision mode. Do you have any craft books you’d like to recommend? Please do in the comments below!

Stay tuned! I’ve a lovely indie author interview coming! No, I didn’t forget about the homeschool lesson plans or music. We’re getting there. 🙂

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

19 thoughts on “#writingtips from #reading #DonaldMaass to cope with #showdonttell, and a call to #vote for my #fantasy #shortstory!

  1. I’ve voted. I’m going to look out for a book like this. I waste reading some of my blogs last night – god they are so superficial and crap. So I’m going to try and at least become competent. I really hope you get time to reread the book, time to write beautifully and above all time to be yourself. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, pish, you’re writing to communicate. That matters because YOU matter. You’re sharing your life’s journey, and that’s what counts.
      I’ll hopefully find some time for me, just as you need time for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad I already have that Donald Maas book, because otherwise I would have to buy it. Looking forward to being able to read again (and write more!) so that I can actually read it!

    I voted for your story, yay! But what an odd system. I was expecting to read excerpts of the various stories, and vote on which one(s) I liked best. But it seems everyone is just voting for what title and description sounds most interesting? Hmm. Well, whatever works for them, I suppose. I hope yours is selected!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I voted:)). And yes – I’ll second your recommendation. I LOVE Donald Maas’s book, though I use and enjoy The Emotion Thesarus – which stops me talking about twisting guts and shooting eye-daggers:))).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The vote’s in. The book sounds great. I need a kick in the arse to finish this dang novel. I’m almost there, but it’s like I’m forcing myself to bring the threads together and that’s no fun.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to jeanleesworld Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s