Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Telling Tuesdays 12/6/11

Telling Tuesday. Reminiscent of those days in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought to show and inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, called "How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre."

It is one of the best articles I've seen on the rule all writers know--show, don't tell--because it doesn't just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre's very own examples.

" . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander." -- Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I'll give a "telling" prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander.

This week's prompt came to mind when I watched the first snowflakes of the season fall yesterday morning:

It was snowing.

I'll go first. This is an excerpt from my manuscript, Broken Dolls. In this scene, on the anniversary of her father's death, 10-year old Sachi has been running from something all day, trying to keep a thought from coming to consciousness. Here's part of that scene:

She started to run, as if she could escape the thought. But it was too strong this time. There was nothing to drive it away. It burst into her mind, full force. She stopped. Breathless.
If you hadn’t begged Papa to take you to the park that day, he might still be alive.

Tears burned her eyes. It was her fault. She covered her face with her hands, hoping darkness would hide her from the bitter realization. It didn’t. There was no escape from the flood of emotion. The dam had burst.
Mama had warned them—told them it wasn’t a good idea to go to the park that day. Papa had probably agreed, but he took Sachi anyway.
It was her fault.
If she hadn’t dragged Papa there, those boys wouldn’t have found him. And if Mama and Nobu blamed those boys, surely they blamed her, too. It all happened because of her. Her fault.
 I’m sorry, Papa.
Something cold tingled on her hands, trickled down her collar. She took her hands from her face and opened her eyes.
White flakes drifted all around her. Landed on her eyelashes. Her nose. Her tongue.
Falling, falling.
Unbelievably quiet.
     Snow! Her first snow.

Your turn! I'm watching and waiting to experience your snow scene.


  1. Yuck! What is the objectionable material? Cold and slippery underfoot. No one who describes it as beautiful has had to scrape it off their windshield and commute seventy miles over its treacherous surface while peering anxiously through its swirling obfuscation of manifold menaces fore and aft.

  2. @ed_quixote - But, this is supposed to be fiction. :) I know, I know. In the non-fiction world, snow is not nearly so magical.

  3. Love your words and love the photograph. Remember clearly when I was there...and here's the opening paragraph on a story I'm still polishing-

    Cocooned within the glassed enclosed room, Evangeline Arseneau stepped from the steaming hot tub on to the heated slate floor and paused. A shallow breath caught in her throat. Before her, a gorged moon perched just at the mountain’s top and cast silver light that peaked through trees and spread across the snowy mountainside. The untouched blanket of white looked like the softest plush velvet. Pristine and virginal. The rawness of the wilderness excited her.

    Thanks!~ Linda Joyce

  4. Great scene, Jan. In fact I venture to say it's like 'buttah'. Linda's too. Got me thinking that I've never written a snow scene. Don't see hardly any in Louisiana, and South America goes without saying. And wouldn't you know, my last novel is set in Missouri and my current one is in Texas...but they both take place in the summer :)

  5. lol. And I just realized that yet another of my novel's settings is Florida. But here's at least a sentence with the word 'snow':

    He scratched at his cheek, flakes of skin snowed onto the sofa.