The High King Lives

Hear the Writer Roar! Tuesday: Show don’t tell! & Onomatopoeia! January 24, 2012

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Hello! Hello! I hope you’re having a lovely day. I’m excited because today is Hear the Writer Roar! Tuesday and I get to share with you the writing tips I’m learning as I write my book (The Truth Seeker’s Chronicles).  First off let me say…..writing IS WORK!  It takes me about five hours to write a half of a chapter. Maybe I’m just slow….that’s completely possible. I really want this book to be of good quality and that means lots and lots of research. I learned several things last week:

I learned when to use “lie” and when to use “lay”……ummm then I forgot it again :(.  But I found a great site that will help me from now on when I have grammar issues. Also, thankfully my best friend Hannah was an English teacher (now turned homeschooling mom). She will be editing my book 🙂 Go Hannah!

Grammar Girl~

(It’s not really dirty lol)

I’ve also learned the definition of “Caterwaul”. It’s the horrible sound a Bobcat makes. I almost peed my pants when I heard the sound clip. And here’s the sneak peak for the week 🙂 One of the creatures in my book is called a Beheymah (which simply means “beast” in Hebrew). It has the body of a panther and huge bat-like wings. It lives in the caves of Shazaar. There’s a scene where Emmanuel hears this beast “caterwauling” in the distance. I wanted to write out the sound effect.

And this is where we come to “Onomatopoeia”. “Onomatopoeia” is a word that imitates sound (like “Bang” or “Screech”).

I found “Caterwaul” in the Onomatopoeia dictionary:

Some people are completely against writing sound effects in a novel (unless it’s in comic form) but there are professionals who use onomatopoeia in their books. Stephen King is one of them. I read that in an article. I’ve never actually read his books. I saw a few of his movies as a kid and it scared me silly. I hate horror stuff. My nightmares are bad enough. I don’t want to give my mind any more scary ideas lol.

Moving on……often I run out of words. My vocabulary only goes as far as what I’ve been taught.  Unless you read a dictionary every day you’re probably the same way. These two sites really helped me take the redundancy out of my writing:

Ya know, maybe we SHOULD  read the dictionary every day….learn a new word each morning….hmmmm. It would probably help my brain…just maybe. I also learned about moss and medieval stumble steps but I won’t bore you with those tid bits. Anywho, it takes me a long time to write because I do alot of research. Also, I take mental notes when I watch tv or read a book…like “Why did that plot fail?” or  “What made the characters so strong and likeable in this series?”.

I LOVE Kristen Lamb’s blog and all her awesome writing tips. You’ll see her blog in my links section to the right. One thing she talks alot about is “showing not telling” when we write. The old days are dead. This generation is spoiled by television and the internet. We are a very visual generation. So when we write we have to remember that our audience is used to action and visual stimuli. They want to experience our book not just read it. Anyone can “tell” a story….but to make your readers feel like they’re IN the book…….well that take’s alot of work. We have to engage our readers’ senses.

Let me give you an example of showing vs. telling.

First: Telling

It began to rain. The smell of the rain reminded Andrea of her past, when her and David were happy. She was depressed so she went to bed early.

Second: Showing

The rain sprinkled with a melancholy tune. Andrea filled her lungs with the fresh air. She could almost taste spring.

“David, do you remember when we used to dance in the rain?”

David gave Andrea a quick glance, then went back to reading his paper.

“Oh, yeah. Sure, Honey. I remember.”

A tear rolled down Andrea’s cheek. She put away the dishes as David finished the sports section.

“I’m going to bed now.”

David did not look up this time. “Okay, good night.”

Can you see the difference? The first example simply tells the readers what is happening and what they must think. The second example shows what’s happening and allows the reader to have their own interpretation of the story. I’m learning that we must NOT patronize our readers. We don’t have to tell the readers Andrea’s depressed. They can see she’s depressed by how she acts. When we “show” instead of “telling” we allow the reader to become a part of the story and it’s process.

In the past, an author would be paid by each word he wrote…so naturally people wrote long detailed stories. They did alot of telling. We are in a new time. We must reach readers of today. Like I implied before, we have to compete with television and virtual reality. So we’ve got to be good. I challenge all my writers out there: Show don’t tell! Engage the senses 🙂

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“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”
E.L. Doctorow  (Quote I found on Mrs. Donita’s blog which is also in my links section)


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God bless and remember: The High King Lives!

~Amber Dover


6 Responses to “Hear the Writer Roar! Tuesday: Show don’t tell! & Onomatopoeia!”

  1. amberdover Says:

    I found this great quote that fits my sample story well….I just had to share 😉

    “There is no greater sorrow than to recall a happy time in the midst of wretchedness.”
    ~Dante Alighieri

    and another quote that makes me hang my head in shame. I’m going to start reading the dictionary lol.

    “Actually if a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it. There are only certain words which are valid and similies (bring me my dictionary) are like defective ammunition (the lowest thing I can think of at this time).”
    ~ Ernest Hemingway

  2. Mom Says:

    Can you hear me clapping!!!

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