I must tell you that I am one that constantly wants to improve my craft. I think we are always developing as writers, and when you find a friend that makes you better, you HANG on to that friend! I have such a friend in author Frank Allan Rogers. Frank is the author of an exceptional book entitled Upon A Crazy Horse, and he also edited my book Captured In Lies. I respect Frank’s approach and I wanted to share something with you that he just recently sent to me.
One of my projects was a YA series entitled Mystic Lake Guardians. The first book was The Haunting of Mystic Lake, and the series was about a group of 5 teens with some very special abilities who become embroiled in some pretty sticky paranormal conflicts and work to save each other and their town. In the first book, I had a character named Logan who was a Shade. A Shade is basically a ghost. I was having difficulty with how I would “show” versus “tell” when the character was no longer alive and didn’t have a physical body.
Frank analyzed one of my chapters to help me with this issue. Not only did I get some great feedback about how to approach the physical reactions of a ghost, but something else came to light as well. In one chapter, I used the word “WAS” 64 times! Oy! I want to share below what Frank had to say about that.
These are Franks words:
Showing Vs Telling
“Was” is the biggest action thief ever invented. You’ll find that word 64 times in this chapter, and a few “wasn’t” words also. That writing trap is an easy one to fall into. Remember, those words are just a state of being, not action. To show your story instead of telling it, eliminate about 80 % of those. Write around them if you have to. For example, instead of saying, the moon was covered by a milky film, try, a milky film covered the moon. You’ll feel the story come to life, as if it’s happening while you read. And that’s essential to transport your reader to the time and place of your tale.
I also want to share with Frank’s suggestion on how to keep my Shade from being flat and boring. Here was his suggestion:
Kelly, I understand the fix you’re in, about Logan experiencing human feelings and emotions without being human. But you have to use the phrases and descriptions you need for Logan; otherwise, he becomes a cardboard character. I had the same situation in chapter 1 of my novel in progress. Here’s how I handled it: August Myles knew he was no longer mortal, and yet he had not been freed from the bonds of mortality—hunger, excitement, fatigue, pain, fear, and heartache—all were as real now as they had ever been. Yes, it’s a bit of a disclaimer, but it worked for me.
I hope this helps you improve your writing. I know it helped me. If you have anything to add please do.
If you want to find out more information about Frank, look at my Porch Guests page.
Until next time…