Saturday, November 1, 2008

Show and Tell

This post isn't about that perennial grade school favorite, but about the literary feature of 'show don't tell.'  I signed up for an online class focused on that very subject and I'm really excited about it.  

Even though I've been writing since I could actually write-- songs for my kitty, poems for the dog or the odd boyfriend here and there, short stories during the college years and the journal that died a swift and sudden death the day I found my husband reading it while nursing a beer, I've never focused much on the craft except when forced by a classroom setting.  I just wrote what I wanted to without much thought about the form.  Style ruled my inner thoughts and the way they came spilling out onto paper, not the structure.   I've covered my shortcomings in that area in an earlier post, so won't reminisce or restate my newfound dependence upon the Elements of Style and Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

As  mentioned before, I entered some of my writing into two contests.  I didn't final in either, but I think the feedback was really valuable and most of the comments were complimentary and encouraging.  Not so much so for judge number three, who should be glad of her anonymity lest she find a tall woman with a stocking cap over her face and a coke bottle in her hand waiting outside for her.  Judge number three gave some good advice liberally spliced with a heaping helping of things judges should be trained not to say.  Oh well.  I'm off topic as they say.   This post isn't about murderous rages--I'm saving that for Tuesday, hehe. 

The feedback from one of the judges who was more stringent in her scoring but still seemed to like my story very much,was that it needed to show a bit more than I was telling.  So, in my effort to take the advice of the writer Kelly Gay, I'm listening to all criticism, even the harsh undeserved kind, as something that pulled the reader out of the story and therefore a point to be examined.

So, off to Show and Tell land.  Let's hope that at the end, I'll have a manuscript that draws the reader even deeper into my twisted fantasy land.


Kelly Gay said...

Hey Pamala! Good luck with the manuscript! :)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Pamala,

Your description of showing up at the judge's door was a great example of show not tell! Made me LOL as I have felt the same thing a time or two...
Have a great week-

Marilyn Brant said...

Pamala, I have no doubt you'll revise beautifully! As for that husband of yours...reading your journal while drinking beer??!! Ohhhh, I can't imagine the trouble he was in!!! (He's lucky you have such a forgiving nature... :)

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Pamala Knight said...


Kelly, Nancy and Marilyn--thanks for stopping by and for the awesome advice.

beat said...

i love reading your blog, pam, great stuff. though i have the nagging feeling that my english is so limited that i probably miss half of the wordplays, the clever structure and the staggering brilliance of it all. the good thing is: i know it's there, even if i don't understand (all of it). greetings!

Pamala Knight said...

Beat my love! How's the weather in Zurich?

I'm so glad that you dropped by my blog. Only fitting after strong arming me into joining Facebook. I think that your English and your grasp of the language is just perfect. So, don't let that stop you from commenting on my nonsense, lol.

Big kiss.