Saturday, February 27, 2010

Alien Abduction?

No, aliens haven’t abducted me. No, my computer didn’t break down. And no, I didn’t lose the use of my fingers, forcing me to learn to type with my toes.
I have no excuse for my blogging absence. Well, at least no good ones. I could give you a list three pages long of bad excuses, but I’ll spare you.
Over the last six weeks, I’ve been taking a Creative Writing class. It’s been wonderful, and I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing. I’m sad to see it end. Each Saturday, I looked forward to the hour long drive to get there, followed by two hours of class, and another hour to get home. The drive gave me time to think, and reflect on what I'd learned.
I often left the class feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of the writing world. It is not for the weak at heart. I feel a little bit like I’m running a race, only I’m turned the wrong direction and have to fight my way through the crowd, without getting trampled on. I hope I can fight my way through, and not give in to self-doubt.
Frustration is a normal part of a writer’s life. Okay, frustration is a normal part of everyday life, but we’ll stick to writing today. There is SO much to learn. I want to plug myself in to a Matrix-like machine, and upload all the files. If anyone knows how, please leave a comment below.
I figure I’m just going to have to learn it one step at a time, like everyone else. Line upon Line, Precept on Precept…(Are any of you singing the Saturday’s Warriors song, like I am?)
There were so many elements from class that have impacted my writing. I think the one that will help me the most was the concept of “Show, not Tell”. I’d heard the phrase thrown around in the writing world several times, but didn’t fully grasp the concept until now.
Annette Lyon taught the class, and was wonderful. (Check out her website, and read her books.) For one of our homework assignments, we had to write a paragraph that “Showed” an emotion, without “Telling” what it was. The exercise really pounded the idea home, so I thought I’d share it with you.
A Telling (and therefore-BAD) sentence would be something like this:
Brandon sat at the table, feeling frustrated as he tried to write an apology letter.
My Showing scene read as follows:
Brandon sat at the kitchen table, hunched over a blank piece of paper. The pen in his hand tapped the table repeatedly, though Brandon was hardly aware of doing it.
“It shouldn’t be this hard. Just apologize and get it over with,” he said to the empty room.
A moment later, he placed the pen to paper and began to write. The words came quickly at first, then slowed until mid-sentence they stopped. He slammed the pen down and crumpled the paper into a tight ball. He chucked it at the corner of the room, where a trash bin waited to add one more failed attempt to its growing pile.
In the second paragraph, I never said he was frustrated, but you could see it.
Okay, now I have an entire manuscript to revise. Hmmm…better get started.
Thanks Annette, for helping me become a few steps closer to becoming a better writer.

5 comments:

elizabeth mueller said...

Wow, Kim... Great showing and not telling! I can feel his frustration WITHOUT you saying he was... WONDERFUL JOB!! ;)

Amber said...

Ha ha! I have 3 pages of excuses for not doing the dishes. Same thing, right? : )

Thank you for sharing that tid bit of knowledge. I haven't even stepped into the writing world yet and I already feel scared. Ah, but that is where faith comes in, right?

mitchowl said...

"as she read the blog entry she felt the corners of her mouth tighten into a smile."

Annette Lyon said...

I'm so glad you made the 4-hour commitment six weeks running, and I can't wait to see you again at the LDStorymakers conference in April!

You're a fantastic writer, and I can only imagine the great things ahead in your future.

Jessica G. said...

I'm really going to miss that class! Are you going to stick with the yahoo group for writing critiques? I think I might.