I’ve spent the last few days in the hinterlands of Montana with several of my fellow EMUs at an agency retreat. I look forward to this all year long. It affords me the chance to connect in real life, to discuss successes, frustrations, doubts. To take off the professional mask and profess my insecurities without fear of condemnation. We are sympatico.
Every writer is somewhere on Christine’s long and winding road. A damn torturous thing at times. The wonderful thing though, the thing I sometimes forget, the thing this retreat always reminds me, is that no matter how far we think we are from our horizon, how deep we believe the pothole to be in which we wallow, there’s always somebody ahead of us, somebody who’s been there, somebody to show us the way.
I’m in the midst of some edits that are kicking my ass…. Surely there must be something from this experience that I can share, something to help others avoid the pothole from which I’m currently extricating myself.
I was perusing old posts on my personal (now defunct) blog in search of a spark and found something painfully perfect:
I’ve realized that I’m a good teller. I can summarize a scene incorporating tension/drama pretty well… this is very bad, because good telling rarely beats good showing (yes, I said rarely b/c there are times I wholeheartedly believe good telling is needed to segue between more important showing).
Good showing tends to be a bit harder for me not b/c I’m not a good show-er, but b/c I tend to be ADD in most things I do, including writing, and I’m always driving hard to get to the scene/chapter/section end in the fewest words possible (my agent might laugh at this since when she asked for a revision, hoping I could get down from 76k to 70k, I ended up sending her the MS at 87k… in the end, we ended up making it a bit longer before going on sub). But the final result is that sometimes I end up wasting time spending extra time rewriting b/c I realize that amping drama through proper, sometimes extended, showing is more critical than creating a fine economy of words.
This post was written a couple of weeks before TALKER 25 sold. I’m on my third round of edits. First round was ironing out world-building/plot issues. Second round was cutting away some needlessness. Third round? Yep, you guessed it. Converting those more tellish scenes to show scenes. They pretty much occur in the second half of the book. Why? Primarily because I was worried about word count.
Show the story first. Worry about everything else afterward. Most of you probably know this, but if you’re like me and sometimes become a little too obsessed with metrics, this a friendly reminder. Save yourself some time. Hide the word count.
Joshua McCune is the author of the Talker 25 trilogy (Greenwillow). Dragons, war, romance (though not with dragons – I don’t do bestiality). First one drops in early 2014.