I've asked Jennifer to talk a little bit about an important aspect of writing: telling vs showing. Here is here advice:
Showing versus telling in writing is a tricky one! For me, when writing my first draft, it’s almost all telling. I am simply trying to get the story out without worrying about how I’m doing it. Once the story is on paper, I go back in and basically rewrite the entire thing so that I am showing the reader what’s happening.
However, there are times where I do need to tell in order to keep the story moving along. Usually when the telling occurs, it’s a minor plot point and not of importance. Where showing becomes vital is between characters. I don’t like reading a story where the writer tells me how characters think and feel about those around them. A lot of times, the characters aren’t clear nor do they even understand their own thoughts and feelings. So it’s a lot of fun to read/write a story where the characters’ interactions with one another allow the reader to draw their own conclusions as to what is really going on.
On the flip side, I don’t want to overdo it with the showing either. Sometimes it’s ok to say a character had a stern look on their face without describing what that stern look looks like. Again, there is a fine line between showing too much. You have to keep the action moving along. I think that’s why it’s really important for a writer to have beta readers and critique partners.
Let’s look at one of my paragraphs from The Key.
“The girl’s eyes flew open. They were brilliant like the sea. Her hair was the color of hay, only silky instead of stiff and rough. Darmik wanted to touch it, just to be sure. The girl’s wet, gray dress clung to her body, her bosom heaving up and down from running. Darmik had seen blue eyes and blonde hair before, but that was in Emperion. He couldn’t help but stare.”
Ok, so in this paragraph, I don’t tell you her hair is blonde, I show you by giving a comparison. Same with her eyes. Also, by having Darmik notice several details so quickly, the reader has a hint that he is immediately drawn to this girl. The paragraph would have been boring if I’d said:
Her eyes opened. They were blue. She had blonde hair. She was breathing hard from running. Darmik looked at her.
Yuck! So in this instance, telling is boring, dull, and adds nothing to the story or characters. Showing is what draws the reader in, captivates them, and leaves them wanting more!!!
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Published: November 15th, 2013 by Clean Teen Publishing
Word Count: 80,000
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Recommended Age: 14+
Within these pages lie kingdoms with castles and princes who fall in love with fair maidens, but make no mistake−this is no fairytale.
His father’s kingdom is on the brink of upheaval and at the center of it all is an ordinary girl who could be the key to its undoing. When faced with the ultimate choice, will he choose the girl he’s falling in love with or the kingdom he has sworn to protect?
An ordinary girl with an extraordinary past. All she wants is to be free. What she doesn’t realize is that freedom comes with a price she can’t afford to pay. She’s forced to accept the proposal of a prince she despises, even though her heart belongs to someone else . . . his brother.
Seventeen-year-old Rema lives in a brutal kingdom where travel between regions is forbidden, people are starving, and looking at someone the wrong way can mean death. Nineteen-year-old Darmik is the king’s son and Commander of the King’s Army. He spends his days roving the island, doing his father’s bidding and trying to maintain control over the people.
When a chance encounter throws Rema and Darmik together, they share an instantaneous connection, but any sort of relationship between them is strictly forbidden. Darmik’s brother, the Crown Prince, notices Darmik’s interest in Rema and, in a calculated, political move, blackmails her. Faced with an impossible choice, Rema is forced to sacrifice her heart in order to save her family.
As Rema is taken to the palace with the Crown Prince, Darmik confronts the growing rumor that a legitimate blood heir to the throne exists and is trying to overthrow Darmik’s family. In Darmik’s quest to hunt down and kill the threat, he discovers that nothing is as it seems. Locked in the king’s castle, Rema finds herself a key player in a massive power struggle. When Darmik shows up, she’s not sure if she can trust him. The line between friends, enemies, and loyalty becomes blurred. As truths are unlocked, Rema understands that she just might be the key to finding the rightful heir and restoring peace to the kingdom… if she can manage to stay alive long enough.
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“Where are we going?” Rema asked, glancing behind her toward the rest of their riding party.
“Just over this rise.” Darmik left the path, leading the way up the hill.
The leafy ground turned to slippery rocks. Darmik offered Rema his hand, but she refused his help. He remembered finding her alone in the forest, and he realized he knew nothing about her—yet he wanted to know everything.
When they reached the top of the hill, he saw what he was looking for.
“A silent waterfall,” Rema gasped. She stood next to him, amazement clear on her face.
On the hill opposite them, water cascaded along tendrils of mossy grass growing from the rocks. It slipped down the soft, green padding until it reached the pool below.
There were a million questions Darmik wanted to ask, but he had no idea where to begin. He rarely did anything on impulse. Looking at Rema’s face, her penetrating eyes, he decided not to think. Pulling off his boots and socks, Darmik threw them on the ground. He unclasped his riding cape and removed his tunic, leaving on his long sleeve shirt and pants.
He ran and jumped, knowing he’d make it to the water below. The pool was in fact quite deep. When he and Lennek were younger, they used to dare each other to jump. But unlike Lennek, who was always taking chances, Darmik wouldn’t jump until he checked the pool to make sure it was deep enough. Only then, did he follow Lennek with a giant leap.
Hitting the cold water, Darmik cringed, welcoming the feeling of losing control and the freedom that came with it. Kicking, he swam to the top, broke the surface, and took in a deep breath.
A splash hit him in the face. A moment later, Rema surfaced wearing a huge smile. “Now that was fun!”
Swimming over to the edge, Darmik pulled himself out. The bank was mostly moss covered rocks that were slippery and difficult to maneuver on. He turned around to help Rema, but she was already hoisting herself onto the shore. She looked like the first time he had seen her—soaking wet and happy.
There was a small patch of sun on a large, dry rock big enough for the two of them to sit next to each other. Darmik carefully climbed over and lifted himself up onto it. The rock was warm from the sun’s heat. Rema stood at the bottom with her hands on her hips like she was trying to figure out a way to join him. Darmik rolled onto his stomach and lowered his arms. She grabbed onto him, her grip strong. He pulled her to his side and released her.
Once she was safely on the rock, they stretched out on their backs, basking in the warmth. Darmik tried his hardest not to look at her. Rema was only wearing her white underdress. It would’ve been too difficult to swim wearing all of her clothes. Still, he didn’t want to be caught staring and offend her in any way. Yet, her body was like a magnet pulling his eyes in her direction.
Unable to resist any longer, Darmik peered at her. Rema was smiling with her eyes closed, looking peaceful and content. Her white underdress clung to her ribcage and wrapped around her legs. Her chest rose and fell with each breath she took. Goose bumps covered her arms. Her hair lay above her head like a halo.
Something shiny caught in the light. A delicate gold chain hung around Rema’s neck. Strung on the chain, lying on the rock near her ear, was a gold skeleton key. Embedded in the bow was a heart-shaped ruby diamond. The jewelry was befitting of a queen or princess. Rubies were not only extremely rare, but they cost a fortune. Did Lennek give her the necklace?
Darmik glanced to the top of the cliff from which they had jumped. No one was about. He hoped to conceal the entire outing, but it was vital Lennek never learn Darmik spent this time alone with Rema on this rock, unsupervised. It was illegal and his brother would punish him with the full force of the law.
There was a soft rustle as Rema’s head turned toward him.
“How did you end up here? Engaged to my brother?” He forced his eyes to remain on hers—away from her body. It was easier to pretend she was fully clothed, dry, and certainly not a mere six inches away from him, their hands lying side-by-side, almost touching.
“I was hoping you knew the answer to that one,” she whispered, droplets of water glistening on her eyelashes.
His suspicions were confirmed—she didn’t choose Lennek. That meant she didn’t love him. But why was she wearing his necklace? “My brother and I aren’t close like that. He doesn’t share his plans or his feelings with me,” Darmik said.
“He has feelings? Really?” She laughed and looked away.
Most women were blinded by Lennek’s charm and position as prince. But Rema seemed to know the real Lennek. A selfish and cruel man. Had Lennek hurt her? She flinched earlier when Darmik had offered her his hand. Usually women only acted like that if they have been hit or beaten by a man. His fingers curled into a fist. She knew who Lennek truly was because he had revealed his true nature to her. What game was his brother playing? What kind of horrors had Rema seen?
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