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July 2014
31
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When ‘Show Don’t Tell’ is Bad Advice, Again

slitheringink:

Part 2

I’ve seen more of those “stop telling when you should be showing” articles floating around in my Tumblr feed, and they got me thinking.

I had responded to an article regarding the whole ‘Show Don’t Tell’ mantra before this year rolled around, and my opinion of it still stands. I think that there’s a place for showing and a place for telling in writing. I also think that professing the whole “only do one and not the other” thing is probably sending the wrong message to young writers.

I understand why the advice is given so readily. I know that a lot of novice writers tend to tell way more than they should, and it’s an easy trap to fall into. Showing is much more difficult and much more time-consuming to do. While I agree that it’s important, and that it can vastly improve your writing, I believe that it’s not something you should strive to do all the time. There are instances where telling is more effective than showing. Aside from pacing, which I explained in the first article, here are a couple of other instances I came up with.

When You Have Something to Hide

Showing is unpacking. Showing is using vivid description (including simile and metaphor), sensory details, and actions to allow the reader to experience the story instead of being told via author exposition. When you do this, you make your writing more interesting, but you also draw attention to whatever it is you’re describing.

This stands out: “Wrapped around his body and held together by hundreds of messy cross-stitches, was a trench coat that smelled like moth balls soaked in cheap beer. The stench was so strong that I found myself plunging my nose into the collar of my own coat before I even reached him.”

A line like this does not: “He wore a tattered trench coat.”

As a reader, you remember the lines of good description where the author takes the time to unpack rather than the lines where you’re just told something.

However, telling can be effective when you’re not trying to draw attention to an aspect of your story. For example, say you have a minor character in the beginning of your story that will end up being a major player later on, but you don’t want the readers to know. You’re going to have to briefly introduce that character in some manner, and then have him slip into the background for a while. You can accomplish this by not giving him a lot of focus, and by proxy, not giving him a shown, memorable description.

This applies to not only characters, but to scenes as well. Sometimes there are incredibly boring things that happen in a story that you as an author is going to want to summarize by telling instead of showing.

As author James Scott Bell puts it, “Sometimes a writer tells as a shortcut, to move quickly to the meaty part of the story or scene. Showing is essentially about making scenes vivid. If you try to do it constantly, the parts that are supposed to stand out won’t, and your readers will get exhausted.”

In essence, showing is about choosing what stands out in a story and what doesn’t. Remember when you’re deciding what you should focus on, always ask yourself why. Why is it important that this character, object, or scene stands out?

Tone of Voice

I’m going to say it here, even if some people don’t agree. I think it’s okay to tell tone, and for that matter, pitch of a character’s voice when appropriate.

When we speak, we have “ups and downs”, and even if we don’t understand the language, we can generally tell if someone is asking a question vs. making a joke vs. giving a command vs. being serious based on them. These “ups and downs”, called inflection, are expressed in text through punctuation and by inferring via the subject matter of a conversation.

However, even with these tools, it’s sometimes hard to gauge how a character sounds without being told, especially if the author has something specific in mind or if what a character is saying doesn’t correlate to how they sound.

For example if you have a character who is talking about killing someone, but is overly cheery about it, it may be prudent to mention the tone since it’s not one commonly associated with the topic of murder.

You can also include a word about tone and/or pitch if there’s a specific way the character sounds, like:

  • Smooth/Rich/Velvety
  • Nasally/Breathy
  • Deep/Gruff/Gravelly/Guttural

Keep in mind that you also have great opportunities to show some of these sounds (depending on what you pick) with great descriptions, again keeping in mind how much focus you want to be put on this character’s voice.

Example: “When he spoke it was like he had swallowed a pail of beach sand.”

Final Words

From author Francine Prose, “Needless to say, many great novelists combine “dramatic” showing with long sections of the flat-out authorial narration that is, I guess, what is meant by telling. And the warning against telling leads to a confusion that causes novice writers to think that everything should be acted out … when in fact the responsibility of showing should be assumed by the energetic and specific use of language.”

Showing vs. telling is all about the choice of what’s going to work better for your story. Don’t be afraid to show. Don’t be afraid to tell. Just know there’s a place for each.

-Morgan

July 2014
28
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You have to surrender to your mediocrity, and just write. Because it’s hard, really hard, to write even a crappy book. But it’s better to write a book that kind of sucks rather than no book at all, as you wait around to magically become Faulkner. No one is going to write your book for you and you can’t write anybody’s book but your own.

 - Cheryl Strayed (via bellamying)
July 2014
28
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July 2014
28
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Legit Tip #97

legit-writing-tips:

There are no more truly original ideas. 

If you believe that your idea is 100% original, it’s not. 

If you’re seeking a story idea that’s 100% original, give up. You won’t find one.

This doesn’t have to be the death knell in your writerly ambitions. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s liberation.

Stop worrying about how to make your story original and focus on being open, honest, and above all interesting in your writing. The thing that will make your story original is you. You are the only one who can tell your story in the specific way that you want to tell it. Once you figure that out - and you figure out what it is that makes you (and therefore your writing) unique - then you’ll be able to create something fresh, exciting, and … dare I say it? 

Original. 

July 2014
20
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The Psychology of Writing: Character Development and Anger

cutsceneaddict:

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Sooner or later, your character is going to get mad. And I don’t mean “mad dog” mad, I mean steam-out-the-nostrils mad. Because anger is such a human emotion, it’s important to be able to portray an angry character without resorting to melodrama. Finding that realistic, human balance isn’t always easy, but it can be made easier if you—the writer—take a few minutes to research this natural, emotional response.

So, in today’s post, let’s talk about:

  • What causes anger
  • Physical signals of anger
  • Internal sensations of anger
  • Mental responses to anger
  • Cues of long-term anger
  • Signs of suppressed anger

Read More

#anger   #emotions   
July 2014
09
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sad-bot:

i dont think you guys appreciate how rad this site is 

because first of all you got your basic fantasy and game race names for like

everything

image

BUT AS IF THAT ISN’T ENOUGH

REAL NAMES WHICH ARE GOOD FOR BOOKS

image

AND THIS THERE’S MORE????

BAM, PLACE NAMES

image

AND STILL MORE

image

image

SO YOU SEE THESE LITTLE OPTIONS HERE

image

PLEASE, PLEASE

GO AND TRY TO HELP A GOOD PERSON OUT

#names   #naming   #resources   
July 2014
09
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Story Elements: This is Why We Fight

writing-questions-answered:

July 2014
09
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Anonymous asked

Hi! I want to create some fictional (perhaps even fantasy-esque) drugs, but I don't even know where to start. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

clevergirlhelps:

Firstly, the drugs need to do something good that “hooks” people. No one’s going to keep taking a drug that sends them to the twelfth plane of torment or one that makes them totally colorblind. You can sort most drug effects into four categories:

  • Happy (MDMA, heroin). The user experiences extreme euphoria and contentment. This may be accompanied by feelings of kinship with those around them and diminished anxiety. Users may achieve a transcendental state. It may also reduce inhibitions.
  • High (cocaine, alcohol). Users experience a burst of energy, confidence, and feelings of sexual prowess. Inhibitions are reduced. Users sometimes become more aggressive.
  • Mellow (marijuana). User feels calm and relaxed. Everything feels “taken care of”. Again, may induce transcendental state. The user will also experience mild euphoria and anxiety will diminish.
  • Trippy (LSD, shrooms). Significant alteration of sensory perception. People may see halos around objects or believe solid surfaces are wobbling. Shrooms reportedly increase one’s sensitivity to sound. Time loses meaning. Users lose sense of self.

Theoretically, you could make fantasy drugs for any desirable human emotion, like the feeling of being full, orgasm, confidence, love, and satisfaction.

Secondly, where does the drug come from?

  • Natural. Like shrooms, opium, or cannabis, it must be grown and harvested. Who farms it? Is it illegal to farm? What kind of plant is it? Where does it grow best? 
  • Manufactured. Like MDMA and LSD, it’s made in a lab. Who makes it? What ingredients is it made of? Does an organization control its manufacture?
  • Magic. The drug is actually a spell and someone has to cast it on you.

Related is how the drug gets from the lab/farm to you. Who controls the trade? How far away is it? All of this will affect the price.

Thirdly, how do you take it?

  • Inhaling. Includes methods like smoking, where the drug is rolled into a thin cylinder and placed between the lips; you inhale to feel the effects. Also included are practices like huffing, where you inhale noxious chemicals from a container.
  • Drinking. Self-explanatory. You can also anally imbibe drinks to hasten the effects.
  • Injecting. Put it in a needle and stick it in a blood vessel. The drug goes right into the blood stream.
  • Swallowing. The drug comes in a pill, like ecstasy. You swallow it and digesting it will give you the full effects. You could also eat it, like most psychedelic mushrooms. 
  • Absorbing. The body has several areas where blood vessels lie close to the surface of the skin. Applying the drug to the area will allow it to diffuse into the bloodstream. These areas are: the nose (snorting), the mouth (chewing/dipping tobacco), and the rectum (anally imbibing alcohol). 

Fourthly, what are the side effects? There will be side effects unless your magic or technology is advanced to the point at which you can reverse severe neurological damage. 

  • Mild. Reddened eyes, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, nausea, sweating, hunger, loss of appetite
  • Moderate. Memory loss, insomnia, diarrhea, vertigo, suggestibility, vomiting, hearing loss
  • Severe. Necrosis, muscle rigidity, convulsions, bad trips, physical disfigurement (eg “meth mouth”), psychosis, HPPD
  • Chronic. Depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, dependence on the drug, irritability, fatigue, rage
  • Way down the road. Cancer, emphysema, COPD, heart problems, lung problems, liver problems, kidney problems, Parkinson’s, stroke, high blood pressure

If your drug is fantastical, then it has more variety as to the side effects. For example, it turns green-eyed people into rabbits, slowly turns one’s stomach to stone, causes users to go back in time, and has a 2% chance of exploding your head.

Fifthly, how does the culture view it?

  • Illegal. No one can use it for any reason. In which case, the drugs will be controlled by an illegal group like a gang or cartel. There will be harsh laws against its manufacture and spread. People who don’t take the drug will look down on people who do.
  • Illegal with exceptions. It’s been shown to aid things like concentration or alleviate the symptoms of that disease. People who can use this drug must obtain it from special makers and carry permission with them at all times.
  • Legal with exceptions. Like alcohol and tobacco in the US, you can buy it and use it in most areas. However, you can’t buy it if you’re under a certain age, can’t use it in buildings, and you can get in trouble if you use it at the wrong time (drinking and driving).
  • Legal. Everyone can use it. There are no restricts on when, where, how, or who.
  • Spiritual. The drug is used as part if a religious experience. Only those undergoing such an experience can take it. The drug is a gateway to another world, frees the conscience, or some other esoteric thing.

Finally, how does that affect society? You should consider,

  • How much it costs. Illegality and the amount of time/money it takes to manufacture will affect pricing. It may also vary by the time of year. For example, if it’s natural, then maybe the drug is cheapest immediately after the harvesting season and really expensive during the winter, when it’s impossible to grow. You also need to factor in how people will get the money to buy the drug, such as stealing or prostitution.
  • Support groups. People will get hooked. How can they get off? Family and friends will certainly try their best, as most drugs do not improve your working or home life. Are they the only methods of support or are there rehab organizations as well?
  • Laws and their enforcement. (Don’t look at this is if your drug is totally legal or legal with exceptions.) There will be laws against its use. How are they enforced? Do the laws go after distributers as well as consumers? How are the consumers treated in court - as criminals or as victims? 
  • Who takes it. In our world, most illegal drug users are lower-income. It’s “shocking” when someone of the middle or upper class is addicted to drugs. The lower-class reputation has led to other classes looking down on drug users as poor, filthy, and needy; and on the lower-class as drug-addicted degenerates. If the upper class took it, then perhaps taking the drug would be the cool thing to do and being high/stoned/buzzed would be a status symbol. Only peasants have lucid thoughts; true nobles don’t know what they’re doing 90% of the time. 
  • Media. The US government banned smoking ads featuring Camel Cigarettes’ mascot, Joe the Camel, in 1997 because he appealed to children and people don’t like their kids lighting up. You don’t see too many cigarette ads in the US anymore. On the other hand, the media glorifies alcohol. Drinking makes you a man. Drinking makes you sexy. Many can’t wait (or don’t wait) to turn 21 and engage in this manly, sexy world of alcohol. So please, please remember that how the drug is presented will affect who consumes it.

#drugs   #fantasy   
July 2014
09
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milkovichhelps:

Below the cut you’ll find a masterlist of links to resources specializing in combat. The masterlist covers topics such as the military, hand to hand combat, injuries, firearms, and various other weapons. If you have anything you’d like to add to the masterlist then feel free to send me a message.
Read More

milkovichhelps:

Below the cut you’ll find a masterlist of links to resources specializing in combat. The masterlist covers topics such as the military, hand to hand combat, injuries, firearms, and various other weapons. If you have anything you’d like to add to the masterlist then feel free to send me a message.

Read More

July 2014
09
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The Effects of Alcohol and Alcoholism Withdrawal

midnightreference:

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Impaired judgment
  • Distorted vision and hearing
  • Blackouts
  • Flushed appearance
  • Intense moods
  • Lack of coordination and slower reflexes
  • Reduced concentration

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Brain damage
  • Vitamin B1 deficiency
  • Ulcers
  • Mouth/throat cancer
  • Malnutrition
  • Concentration & memory problems

Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Within 2-6 hours of the last drink
    • Insomnia
    • Anxiety
    • Headache
    • Reduced appetite
    • Tremors
    • Stomachache
    • Paleness
    • Clammy skin
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Dilated pupils
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability
    • Depression
    • Rapid emotional changes
  • Within 12-24 hours
    • Some experience alcoholic hallucinosis, which includes visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations that normally end within 48 hours
    • Most are aware that the hallucinations aren’t real
  • Within 24-48 hours
    • Withdrawal seizures may occur
    • Risk is increased after multiple detoxifications
  • Within 48-72 hours
    • DTs (delirium tremens) may occur
    • DTs usually peak at 5 days
    • Disorientation
    • Confusion
    • Anxiety
    • Seizures
    • High blood pressure
    • Severe tremors
    • Fever
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Sweating
    • Hallucinations indistinguishable from reality

Sources:

http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/withdraw/a/aa030307a.htm

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&sqi=2&ved=0CHIQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.unmc.edu%2Ffamilymed%2Fdocs%2FAlcohol_Withdrawal.ppt&ei=qaZ6UvDyGsrPsASbgYFg&usg=AFQjCNFvG9Oy1kEM14tOtqBqlqFTd18TbQ&sig2=F28HRYeGeq8j5K01n0eOpw&bvm=bv.55980276,d.cWc

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/alcohol-abuse/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments?page=1

http://www.dassa.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=122

http://www.drinkwise.org.au/you-alcohol/alcohol-facts/short-term-harm/

http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/alcohol/short-term-long-term-effects.html