You should at this point have a writing plan that you are committed to, a model text that is offering you insight into and guidance on your own work, and a sort of road map of the project or projects you are working on. We have, in other words, done a lot of good preparation for writing, and a little bit of writing too. Now we get down to it...
Thought for the Day: "Don't say 'the old lady screamed.' Bring her on, and let her scream." ~Mark Twain
It's the best possible advice for fiction, and really for most kinds of writing or even speaking: show, don't tell.
If you tell someone that an experience was thrilling, they will have
to take your word for it. If you SHOW them that same experience through
detail and dialogue, they will FEEL thrilled themselves.
How do you show rather than tell? You make a scene! Here is advice from an indispensable text in the Elements of Fiction Writing Series, Plot, by Ansen Dibell:
"Showing, in fiction, means creating scenes. You have to be able to
cast your ideas in terms of something happening, people talking and
doing, an event going on while the reader reads."
goes on to say, "A scene is one connected and sequential action,
together with its embedded description and background material. It
seems to happen just as if a reader were watching and listening to it
happen. It's built on talk and action. It's dramatized, shown, rather
than being summarized or talked about. In some ways, it's like a little
Below is an example, a scene of four teenagers, all of whom have been drinking, driving home on a dangerous road.
"The feeling was backwards from a roller coaster, actually. The
long descent was not the scary part. But then the car, carried by its
own unchecked momentum, dropped into the valley at the bottom of the
first hill and lurched around a curve to begin a steep, twisting climb.
They jerked left, then right, then left. It felt like skiing, Jane
thought, although she had never been skiing. It felt like skiing
looked. She had been watching the back of Ryan's head, but now she
looked out at the trees whisking by. She wondered briefly how many
animals had been killed on this road.
Then they were at the top of another hill. Jane glanced
at Jesse's feet. She couldn't tell absolutely, but it looked like he
wasn't touching the gas or the brakes. He had turned the music down at
some point without Jane realizing, but no one took advantage of the
relative quiet to speak. They were listening to their own speed. Jane
felt the back wheels leave the ground at the same time that their
headlights went out. Cheryl screamed, but Jane stayed quiet, noticing
how time seemed to be suspended, like darkness equaled stillness, like
they were hanging in a space ship in the night. When the headlights of
the oncoming car beamed into her face, she couldn't think for a second
what that sudden blinding light could be."
Writing Prompt #3: Choose one of the ideas below and render it as a scene. Show. Don't tell.
1. An experience in Nature.
2. A scene of sickness or injury.
3. A young person telling a parent something he or she would rather not have to tell.
4. A conversation that turns into an argument between two people standing in a line.
5. A first day at school or a new job.