More on Showing Vs. Telling -“Felt” A Word to Avoid

Embarrassed Emoticon

As I’ve gone through the editing process with Secrets of a Wolf, I can assure you that a GOOD editor is more valuable than any precious gem. Worth more than twice their weight in gold! Always be willing to improve your craft and a great editor can help you do that. They will enhance your voice!

I digress. My topic in this entry is about Showing vs. Telling, another one of my weaknesses and a very easy trap to fall into when writing any story. It is SO SO boring to a reader. I’m just going to deal with one word here that has turned into a crutch word for me, and for those of you with more experience in the craft, this may be old news, but for me it’s been a true learning experience.

The word is…Felt! This word sucks you right into the “telling” trap. Allow me to share a few “out takes” from my recent editing experience.
My Sentence: She didn’t know if she felt relief or terror.
My Editor’s Comment: Describe what she is feeling – don’t tell us
My Revision: Relief flooded her. The door latch held firm, but eventually she’d have to face him. There was no other way out of the room. Sweat trickled down her back and dampened her palms. Her heart raced. She had no other options.

My Sentence: I got dizzy and felt sick
My Editor’s Comment: “Felt is telling. Revise”
My Revision: My world spun out of control. The car rolled over and over, rattling my brain against my skull, and churning my stomach. I fought the nausea but lost.

I think you get the idea. No more “felt” show us!

About Kelly Abell

I am a writer, blogger, and graphic artist. My aim for you is to utilize this blog to help you improve your writing skills, and to educate you on the publishing business. If you need help with writing, want to self-publish a book and need advice, or just want to kick a story idea around to see what works best, that's what I'm here for. As I gain knowledge from editors and publishers, I will share that knowledge with you. As writers we should always strive to improve our craft and grow. A day should not pass where you haven't learned or tried something new with your writing. Many thanks to my Night Owl Friend, Lea Ellen Borg for editing my posts! Best to you and all your characters and stories. Write on, my friends...Write on.
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16 Responses to More on Showing Vs. Telling -“Felt” A Word to Avoid

  1. Oh boy. “Felt” is a crutch alright. I try to reframe it as a place holder until I go back to edit. 🙂

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  2. jackstr952 says:

    This goes for most of the other senses. Once you have established the POV character in a scene, it’s not longer necessary (or advisable IMO), to write “he or she saw . . .” “he or she tasted,” “he or she heard,” etc… you get the idea. I suppose there are exceptions but if you have a lot of this type of narrative, cut it and try without . . . it is much smoother and tighter.

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  3. adeleulnais says:

    ah yes, I have this problem but thanks to posts like yours I am watching carefully for the dreaded felt word appearing. Another word is “like” it was like, I have to watch out for that one too.

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  4. I like using these crutches in my draft to get me into the mindset of the characters, but once I start editing, I do a search for these telling words and eliminate most of them.

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  5. Kelly Abell says:

    Hi Paula. Thanks for stopping by. I agree. I use them too in what I call my “word vomit” draft. LOL. Then the trimming begins.

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  6. Great advice, Kelly – particularly about having a good editor!

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  7. Sandra says:

    Your revisions are pretty fantastic! That’s all I feel I can say right now 🙂 (No, but seriously, the rewrites are amazing!)

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  8. Wonderful tips I cannot begin to tell you how many ebooks I have read that have used the lazy sentences. Thanks Kelly

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