Writing Resources: Showing & Deep POV

“Showing vs. Telling” and “Deep Point of View” are craft topics that almost every writer will come across at some point. But what, exactly, do they mean, and how do you apply them to your writing? Here’s a roundup of some of the resources I found most helpful in understanding these terms and applying them to my work.

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1. Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan.

This is an excellent book about writing. Don’t let the title fool you. It’s about much more than description. I wasn’t diligent about doing the exercises, but I learned the importance of concrete details. (Concrete details are the key to showing well.) This book set the stage for the next books. (Note: I read the original version, but there’s a revised edition that came out in 2014.)

2. Show or Tell? A Powerful Lesson on a Crucial Writing Skill by James Thayer.

As far as I can tell, this book is only available for the Kindle (you don’t need a Kindle though–you can download the Kindle app for your PC or mobile device). It’s only 43 pages long, but if you struggle with showing and telling, read this book and the next one. Then thank me later. 🙂

Thayer explains the differences between showing and telling very clearly, gives lots of examples, and has lots of hands-on exercises (with sample answers). I did every single exercise. After years of workshops, this book taught me to recognize telling and how to fix it. When I look at my old Showing vs. Telling workshops from the perspective of his book, those old workshops suddenly make sense. I can understand now what the instructors were doing, but more importantly, how they did it.

3. Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.

Another short book but well worth it.

Her book builds on the lessons I learned from Show or Tell? Like Thayer, she gives lots of examples in short, easy to understand chapters, with exercises and sample answers at the end of each. Here, too, I did every single assignment and learned a lot about writing a deeper POV. If you read nothing else, read Thayer’s book and this one.

4. Entangled editor Liz Pelletier’s blog post on Demystifying Deep POV in Five Minutes (or Less).

She focuses on Motivation Reaction Units (MRUs) and how to utilize them for deep POV. Here’s the link to her post, which I highly recommend reading:

http://crw-rwa.ning.com/profiles/blogs/deep-pov

5. Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham also has an excellent section on MRUs.

That’s it! Thanks to the above resources I finally understood how to recognize and fix the telling in my manuscripts, and how to write in a deeper POV. For those of you who also struggle with these, I hope you find these books and links as helpful as I did.

Best (and thanks for your patience with this long post!),
India

Inspiration and Cherry Adair

April 2010

I first encountered Cherry Adair at Chicago-North RWA’s 2010 Spring Fling Writers’ Conference. She presented a workshop called “Layering and Texturing Your Novel.” I’d only written 20 pages that were worth keeping, but I went anyway. So many people had raved about her workshop when she presented it at RWA Nationals that I couldn’t miss it!

Her layering workshop really is that good, so I suggest running to get a copy of her presentation from the Nationals 2008 conference recordings. Cherry Adair revolutionized my thinking that day, and it had nothing to do with the wonderful advice from her workshop.

She issued us a challenge: vow to Finish The Damn Book within a year (starting from scratch on a brand new book), polish it until it shone, and submit it to agents and/or editors. If you succeeded, you would have the chance to win an awesome prize from Cherry Adair.

India Powers with Cherry Adair

India Powers with Cherry Adair at RWA Nationals 2013

There’s a reason RWA named Cherry Adair the 2011 PRO Mentor of the Year. She knows that the only way to succeed as a writer is to finish the damn book.

I’d been struggling with my manuscript (called Awakening back then) since January 2007. As a newbie writer I was plagued with self-doubts. I felt compelled to take every possible online writing course I could, and I bought and read many craft books. I plotted endlessly, wrote a good synopsis, knew my characters and story arc, but could not figure out how to get from scene A to scene B. (For the curious, I found the answer during NaNoWriMo 2012—ask yourself what the character would do next in response to what just occurred. Please don’t tell me how obvious this is. Trust me, I know.)

Before meeting Cherry, I’d had no idea it was possible to finish a manuscript in a year, not to mention polish and submit it! For the first time, the possibility of finishing my book shimmered before my dazzled eyes like a star waiting to be caught. It was only a year. That was doable, right?

I created a Finish the Book Challenge yahoogroup for conference attendees who wanted to participate. Because we were independent, we allowed people to work on existing manuscripts they wanted to finish. My goal was to finish Awakening, then work on a new book that would meet the conditions for Cherry’s challenge.  By the end of the year we had several people who met Cherry’s challenge, and at least one went on to be published. I don’t remember how far I got. I lost my father that year and my mom lived half the country away. The year passed in an emotional blur.


June 2011

I attended the Evanston Writers Workshop, featuring Cherry Adair. I attended every single one of her workshops, including her special plotting sessions. I didn’t sign up for her challenge this time, but that goal she held out to all of us of finishing the damn book within a year still drew me. I met with her in a one-on-one session to show her the plotting board I’d put together using her methods.

She’d been teaching practically non-stop morning, afternoon and night for two days, yet she still made time to meet with anyone who wanted input on their story. She gave me great feedback, but I’ll never forget when she told me, “I love your story but it’s so complex it makes my head hurt!”

That year I made it to chapter 8 (most of it during NaNoWriMo) before getting stuck. Then all the online workshops and years of study suddenly bore fruit. I realized pretty quickly that I had resolved all of the conflicts, leaving myself nowhere to go. I worked backwards and made notes of the changes I needed to make, and adjusted my outline. Despite this, I was still stuck.


January 2012

Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell came out. I read that book and counted all the plots and subplots that appeared in my first chapter. I needed both hands and all my fingers. Cherry was right—my story was too complex! I winnowed out the extraneous conflicts and generated plots for three more books. This helped, but I still had nowhere to go after chapter 8. Then it hit me. The hero, heroine and villain had no reason to interact. They could have happily ignored each other for the entire book. Bingo! I added a curse.

April 2012

I was on the planning committee for Chicago-North RWA’s 2012 Spring Fling Writers’ Conference. When the conference rolled around in April, I was sick that I’d only written 10K and had nothing to pitch to our fantastic lineup of agents and editors. So I signed up to attend the Emerald City Writers’ Conference in October, and vowed that I would have a finished book.

October 2012

By mid-October I had only written 25K. I wrote like mad every day from that point forward, reporting my word count to GIAM’s 100×100 and Tour de Force online writing groups, as well as my own local critique group, the Aphrodite Writers. I saw Cherry Adair at the Emerald City conference and signed up for her Finish the Book challenge once again, for book 2.

Seeing her inspired me even further. I was determined to complete her challenge. But first I had to finish book 1.

November 2012

I completed my manuscript (final word count: 114K) in November and won NaNoWriMo by writing 50+K in one month.

December 2012

I spent December polishing my manuscript and entered the Golden Heart. My manuscript, now titled Demon’s Bane and pared to 100K, finaled in the 2013 Golden Heart contest, won the 2013 Emily contest, and finaled in two other RWA chapter contests. I also achieved Pro status within RWA.

All the goals I had set for myself back in January 2012 that had looked so far away in April, I accomplished in the last 3 months of the year.


July 2013

I ran into Cherry Adair at RWA Nationals last week and had to tell her just how much her challenge has meant to me. She hugged me and introduced me around and helped me celebrate an accomplishment that is not easy. I felt that things had come full circle. I’d been at Nationals in 2008 (although I was too new to go to her layering workshop), and five years later here I was at my second National conference, a GH finalist, and meeting the woman who had inspired me to finish the damn book.

Although it took me years of repeated attempts, Cherry’s challenge gave me a concrete deadline to push toward. I’m submitting Demon’s Bane to agents and editors, but I’ve already plotted and begun writing book 2, Truth Seeker. I am determined that I will finish, polish and submit Truth Seeker before the challenge deadline is up in October. This time I will succeed!

Last, while goals are important, so is support. In March 2011 I joined a small writer/critique group called Aphrodite Writers. Where Cherry gave me the goal of finishing the book in a timely manner, they provided the encouragement and straight talk I needed to fight my self doubts. I have many other friends from Chicago-North, Windy City and the GIAM loops who believed in me and encouraged me too, and there were many who helped me through the dark periods when I lost my dad. So even though I didn’t win the Golden Heart, having all of them as friends makes me a winner where it counts. 🙂

AphroditeWriters

The Aphrodite Writers at Nationals 2013. Clockwise from left: GH finalist India Powers, Robin Skylar, CJ Warrant, Cici Edward, Denise DiLeo, Kat Bauer, Clara Kensie, Sarah Kayes, GH finalist Sonali Dev, and Savannah Foxx.


Who has inspired you, or what was your journey with that first book?

 

Welcome to my Redesigned Website!

Today is a fabulous day. I’m excited to show off my updated website courtesy of the Killion Group!

I used to be a computer programmer, and I have even designed websites using PHP and HTML. However, I am not graphically-inclined. I knew I didn’t have the skills to realize my vision for my website.

So I shopped around, perusing the websites of my favorite authors. I’d heard of Hot Damn Designs years ago, and when I saw Kimberly Killion also designed websites, I was ecstatic! I loved her designs and couldn’t wait to get started.

The process was easy. I filled out a short questionnaire and selected some images that I liked. It was hard for me to pin down exactly what I was going for, and I wasn’t sure if my ramblings would make sense to Kim. Then I got my design and all I can say is:

PURE. GENIUS.

Kim created a website design that surpassed my wildest hopes. I LOVE IT!

I’m not published yet, so maybe in some ways I’m jumping the gun. But I’m finding Kim’s website redesign very motivating and inspiring, because every time I look at the gorgeous header image, I want to write a book that brings that romance to life. 🙂