• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~ Kinetic
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Wicked
    Fridays ~ Eerie
    Saturdays ~ Mighty and Ninja
    Sundays ~ Swamp Tales

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

My Fumbling Attempts to Write Erotica

I had an idea for a great story. Isn’t that always the way it starts? In between a busy day of almost non-stop responsibilities, I forced myself to type up a short summary (because I couldn’t get it out of my head). As the day wasted away, I finally got to sit down and start the actual story. For two weeks, I was obsessed. This, I thought, is good.

And then I let a couple erotica pros read it.

Consensus: not good.

Feeling crushed, I re-read the story. How had I gone wrong? Strong characters. Interesting world building. Great (if amateur) sex scenes. This was what a good story was all about. This was me stretching myself as an author and exploring something I’d never written before. So why did it suck?

The Short Answer: I don’t read erotica. Other than a couple of pages once or twice, I’ve never really picked it up.

Why’s that a problem?

This took me weeks to figure out, even though it should have been minutes. This genre, like all others, requires an author to understand it and its readers.

But when did I finally realize this?

I sat down with a friend who walked me through some of the big issues that I just didn’t completely understand. I’d been told of these issues, but it didn’t click. The first one was that there was no emotional connection between my character and the man she sleeps with. So, I thought, a one night stand is still hot to read about. And it is, but even a one night stand has to be more than sweaty bodies pressed together. There has to be something that draws the characters together, even if it is just a sexual magnetism. But what comes along with that is the feelings of the two people. What are they thinking and feeling as they see one another? What fantasy does the man or woman awaken in the other?

I hadn’t thought of this. But still, my main problem didn’t really click.

Then, she walked me through some of the erotica “sins” I’d committed. Every time she mentioned one, I died a little inside. This is a good story, I thought, doesn’t that count for something?

And then one of my erotica goddesses handed me a giant-ass bag of books on writing erotica, as well as, collections of erotica short stories. As I carried them home, I felt a strange sense of empowerment. Now, now I had the tools to figure out what I’d done wrong.

I started one book at random. It gave a short autobiography on the writer, then moved on to a section basically encouraging writers in this genre. When I finally put it down, (not finished yet), I still didn’t know a thing about writing erotica, but I looked at it through new eyes. I felt the same way I did after leaving an English class in college where somehow the debate had turned to feminism, and the many ways we were still fighting to be seen as equals. Erotica, I felt, was a genre that was still fighting to be recognized as an equally respectable genre.

Then, finally, I did the one thing I’d been putting off. I picked up the collection of erotica short stories.

There is something dangerous about reading this genre. About knowing you can be reading a sentence, only to come across words you’d never read in any “polite” book. It is almost like walking down a shadowy alley and wondering if something unexpected is going to jump out of the shadows. Only, you know it is going to happen. It is more about the when.

Most of the stories were not my cup of tea, so to speak, but I learned something about them all the same. It doesn’t matter what the reader is into, it is about drawing the reader into your fantasy. Things I would never find sexy, I still found intriguing and interesting. When something is written well enough, it almost doesn’t matter the content. You can appreciate it. And that’s what I did, I read. And studied.

And finally, I got it.

There was no way I could write erotica without reading it. Without studying this genre. Without embracing and appreciating it for what it is.

I’m excited more than ever about venturing into this genre, as well as, many others. I feel like the only way I can become a really great writer is to constantly push myself to try new things. Not all of them may work, but at least I’ll learn something in the process.

Why We Love Bad Guys

I can almost hear the click of Nurse Ratched’s shoes on linoleum every time I think of an insane asylum. Or I find myself wanting to say the phrase “Luke, I am your father” whenever I hear the Star Wars theme song. And I don’t think I will every consider clowns the same after Stephen King had his way with them, in the book It.

stephen king it clown

Villains come in every shape and size and can mold a piece of fiction as much as the protagonist. A strong villain gives the story a rallying point, a common enemy. Here are a few tips in creating the bad guys we all love to hate.

 

  • Layer Them. Spend as much time with the back story and characterization of your bad guy as you do your protagonist. What are their hobbies? Would they kiss their mother goodbye still?
  •  Give them a motivation. Go beyond the who, and find out the why. We have moved beyond the one-dimensional villains from bad cartoons. Readers want to know why the aliens mean to destroy our planet. And pure evil is not a good enough reason. While readers may not need to know their villain was punched in the nose in kindergarten, the author does need to know their motivation as it will layer and effect their actions and decisions.
  •  Give them muscles. Not necessarily in the literal sense, but make your villain someone or something that will push your protagonist to great depths.

 

One book, I recommend in building your characters, is the Writer’s Guild to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. It delves into a variety of personality traits and discusses such topics as what type of person would join a cult, birth order characteristics, and even traits of a Fetishist. Yea, I checked. It’s a word.

So delve into your dark side and add that depth and tension to your novel. I know I’ll be working on it.

Welcome Home, Anna Conda

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Greetings and Salutations honorable readers of the blog,

I hope you didn’t miss last week’s blog, Robert Louis Stevenson came for a visit to discuss The Body Snatcher, and The Strange Case Of Dr. Jeckyll And Mr. Hyde. It seems that doctors in fiction are much maligned. There was Dr. Moreau;  from The Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G.Wells; Dr. Frankenstein; from Mary Shelly’s, Frankenstein; Dr. Herbert West; from H.P. Lovecraft’s, Herbert West Reanimator; and who could forget Dr. Hannibal Lecter, from The Silence of The Lambs, by Thomas Harris. These are but a few of the more renown doctors of horror. There are countless tales of doctors whose experiments have ended badly for people. Sometimes the balance of the world is at stake. That is not to say literature presents all doctors in a negative light, but in the realm of horror when a doctor enters the scene, it’s time to duck and cover. 

Speaking of doctors, please welcome one of the Swamps more celebrated residents Dr. Anna Conda. Anna has starred in such films as Anaconda, Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid, Anaconda 3: The Offspring, and a myriad of National Geographic’s specials. Harvard Law has just bestowed her with an honorary degree for her contribution to maintaining the reputations of snakes everywhere.

“Hey Anna, welcome home. Will you be staying a while or do you have to jet off to another thrilling film location?”

“Thanks for that warm welcome everyone. No Eerie, I won’t be leaving for a while. I’m taking some time off to recuperate.”

“Great, it will be a pleasure having your smiling face around the place for a change. What can you tell us about this honorary degree?”

“I don’t know that much really. My agent called and said something about Harvard Law’s alumni working in Washington D.C. as politicians and lobbyists. Then something about me being a famous snake. The next thing I know, I’m staying in a beautiful suite at The Charles Hotel in Boston.”

“So this had something to do with politicians, lobbyists, and snakes. I see the connection now. Will you be called on to perform any public speaking engagements?”

“My agent said anything of that nature would be negotiated by him. Have you met my agent King Cobra?”

“I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure.”

“Well King, made sure I was treated like royalty during my stay in Boston. They gave the cutest little hat with a tassel and everything.”0511-0703-2014-1738.jpg

“I’m very happy for you. What are you plans for your stay at home?”

“I thought I’d catch up on my water colors. I can never find the time to paint when I travel.”

“I heard they’re having a welcome home party for you over at The Slice Your Own Deli tonight.”

“Yes, I’m very excited to see everyone. I’ve missed you all so much.”

Mischievous Raven appears in a noisy rustle of ebony feathers. “Hey Anna, How you doin‘?” Mischievous tries to arch his eyebrows. (Which is comical if you’ve ever seen a raven be seductive.)

“Hi Mischievous,”Anna, all but purrs, (can a snake purr?) “Are you coming to my party tonight?”

“Wouldn’t miss it, Baby. Maybe you and I can get a little alone time later.”

Anna moves close and wraps around Mischievous. “I’d like that Sugar.”

“Not to tight baby.” Mischievous squirms.

“Sorry Sugar, sometimes my passion gets away from me.”

“Save it for later. I heard Maggot Brain is performing tonight in honor of your return.”

“That’s wonderful. I love their song I”m infected for you? It’s a real mood setter.” Anna puts another wrap on Mischievous.

“I know the one.” Mischievous does a little grind.

“Hey hey, this is a family show, You two ought to get a room.” I use my hat to conceal my eyes.

“I’d better go shed my skin so I’m ready for tonight.” Anna, slithers off.

“Whew, she’s hot.” Mischievous shakes out his rumpled feathers. “I better go.”

“I thought you were going to tell our guests about your visit to the Left Coast?”

“Later, I got things to go, places to see, and people to do, my man. Later.”

Sorry folks, it’ looks like it’s that time again. As is our custom, I leave you with Prince.

“There’s a dark side to everything.”
Prince

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf Aka Dave Benneman

Urban Fantasy vs. Fantasy or Girls vs. Boys Phoenix Comicon panels part duex #writingtips #rogues

Welcome to part deux of my ventures into Phoenix Comicon writing panels. I saved the best for last. The panel was titled “Writing Rogues” and man, the panelists fit that description to a ‘T’.  Recognize these names: Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), Patrick Rothfuss (Kingkiller Chronicles), Pierce Brown aka Pretty Boy (Red Rising Trilogy), Sam Sykes (The Aeons’ Gate series), and Scott Lynch (Gentleman Bastards series). If you read fantasy, you know at least one of these. And yes, it did not escape my notice there were no females present (but more of that later).

This workshop focused on the role of the rogue in fantasy series.  You know the ones: Han Solo from Star Wars, Lynch’s Locke, Harry of Jim Butcher fame, Atticus from Kevin’s series, these male characters know how to work that line between bad boy attitude and hero.

They started off with what makes a rogue–flaws, moral grayness (morally transgressive), never sure if they’ll side with you or leave you hanging in the wind, ambivalent, never committed to any cause, unless it’s themselves. They’re the characters you aren’t sure will show up, and when they do, you still aren’t sure what they’re going to do. They break the boundaries of their worlds, have to fight themselves before they fight their antagonist.  Want more examples? Think Snake Eyes from GI Joe, Stryder from LoTR, Cpt. Kirk of USS Enterprise–each one of these is what is described as a “chaotic neutral”.

The panel was an hour long and these guys are high caliber smart asses, witty without trying, and awesome to listen to. Then one of the audience members got up and asked a question.

“Why aren’t there any female rogues in fantasy?”

Silence descends for a moment, then Patrick dares to address the 15 minute rambling that I managed to get down to 8 words.  Because part of that rambling question were comments, such as “why does a female rogue have to be attractive, but a male one doesn’t?”, and “why are female rogues considered $itches”, and “how come its an all male panel?”, and so forth.

It was a big room with lots of people. My heart went out to the panelists. This is a minefield question. The questioner was on the younger side (no offense meant, but it may give insight into the whys behind the questions).

I won’t go into the debate that broke out, but I will boil some of it down:

1. In Fantasy, the world settings tend to model on medieval, which then extends to your world’s attitudes on genders. Patrick posed an interesting question, “If a fantasy author wrote a book where the lead was a mother, who decided to leave her hubby and kiddos, to undertake a heroine’s journey, would the readers be sympathetic?”  My answer as a reader–not me. First, I’m a mom and a wife, and somehow leaving behind the important peeps in my life to undertake some journey to find a magical object, would require serious incentive. Patrick pushed it further. “So say this mom does leave it all behind to do this journey, and say the sexual mores of this world were less puritan than ours, so she can now hook up with males through out her journey without worry of negatively impacting her family behind, would it still work for you?”  Again, me as a reader–um, yuck.

My take away from this one:  Fantasy is based on historical mores/values/cultures, and women, unfortunately did not play dominant roles in those, which is then reflected in high fantasy.

2. Many, many, MANY (did I say many?) times, each of the authors on the panel brought up woman writers who have kick-ass female rogues: Carrie Vaughan, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Laurell Hamilton, Elizabeth Hand, etc.

After much back and forth, guess what I wanted to yell at the minor demon of debate castigating the panel: Yo, honey, you want rogue females? Then PICK UP A DAMN URBAN FANTASY BOOK!  Rogue female characters work in UF because it’s fantasy set in contemporary times, where moral trangsgressiveness is gender blind. You want to know what happen to rogue female leads, yeah they’re kicking ass a few hundred of years after the bad boys of fantasy.

Besides, you tell me, don’t Granuaile from Hearne’s novels, or Karen in Jim’s novels, nail the female rogues roles?

So I refrained from violence, barely, but I still had to vent a bit on this.

Tell me, as I haven’t read the newer High Fantasy lately, are there women rogues in lead roles? Ones that aren’t portrayed as hardened $itches?

Why?

“Because I said so.”

I never thought I’d be the parent to speak those words. But it turns out, I was wrong. At least fifty times a day, I’m asked why. And most of the time, I manage to answer patiently. But sometimes I honestly don’t know what else to say. All I know is the question makes me grind my teeth at the end of a long day. I even swear the word why haunts me even when I’m alone, especially when I’m trying to sleep, and trying to write.

But asking this question also helps improve my writing. These are some frequent ones that pop into my head:

Why does this matter?

Why does she love him?

Why does she react this way?

Why does this motivate her?

Why is she afraid of this?

Asking these questions, and others like them, are a great way to dive deeper, to make sure I understand my characters on every level. My readers might not know the whys of everything I write, but I want to make sure I do.

What are some other great why questions that help you as a writer?

“Write with the door closed…” Stephen King

“Write with the door closed…” Stephen King

 

We were discussing the other day the importance of writing with the door closed. How we need to not only shut out the daily distractions of life, but those voices in our heads. Those wee little creatures that tell you it’s not good enough. That tell you that last sentence you wrote was incomplete. Those people who look down their long pointed noses to remind you that your chance of success is nil.

Well, I say not only close the door, but slam it shut.

Write for yourself. Tell that story that only you can tell. We are all unique, and trying to be anything else is a waste.

Below is a poem from one of my favorite poets and creative genius, Shel Silverstein. It helps me remember “Anything can be.”

LISTEN TO THE MUSTN’TS CHILD.
LISTEN TO THE DON’TS.
LISTEN TO THE SHOULDN’TS.
THE IMPOSSIBLES.
THE WON’TS.
LISTEN TO THE NEVER HAVES,
THEN LISTEN CLOSE TO ME…
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN CHILD.
ANYTHING CAN BE.

 

Anything can happen child

The Lamb

This story has come up enough times in the last few weeks that I feel obliged to share it online. On the crazy whirlwind immersion trip to Peru, the highlight of the students’ shenanigans was when they bought a lamb. Not lamb chops, but a baa-ing, bottle-drinking, week-old lamb.

Okay, a little bit of a set-up first. Near the end of the trip we stayed in Cusco, crashing for almost a week in a hostel owned and run by some local nuns. While going on a day tour, we say many tourist traps, including ladies dressed in bright, traditional clothes and carrying baby lambs (I know baby lamb is redundant, but I can’t stress enough how cute and young these things were). Tourists could take pictures with the ladies and lambs for 1 sole (about 40 cents). To get the ladies to leave us alone, the boys asked how much for the lamb. After a few surprised seconds, the lady said 80 soles (about $30). Of course we smiled, said no, and went our own way. 

That night at dinner, the boys asked how complicated it would be to buy an animal abroad and transport it home. Assuming the question to be based solely out of curiosity with no serious I’m-really-asking-this tone at all, the teacher-director told the boys about how his wife bought a dog and got it home after 40 days in quarantine. 

The next day, I was sitting in the lobby of the hostel when some of the boys walked in. They had big grins plastered on their faces. One said, “Ms. Mason, you’ll never guess what we just did.” I suddenly recognized their smiles as cat-that-ate-the-canary grins.

Cue gut-wrenching terror. That’s never what you want to hear from a teenage boy on a school immersion trip in a foreign country. A few more boys walked in, one carrying the baby lamb. 

For two days, the boys kept the lamb in the hostel – the nuns were surprisingly understanding. That thing peed and pooped all over the place. During this time, the boys tried to figure out a way to get the lamb back to Arizona. A little research revealed that it would be much more difficult than they originally assumed. After hours of internet searches and conversations, they decided the best course of action would be for one of the students to claim emotional dependence on the lamb as a comfort animal. 

Yes, I was officially living a teenage, after-school sitcom. 

The story has a good end, an ending that is not lamb chops. The boys went to a textile factory and took a tour. While there, one of the women at the factory agreed to take care of the lamb. She promised not to kill it, and even said she would send the first blanket made from its wool back to the school. 

I must admit, I did not foresee that chain of events happening. 

Haunted By Literary Ghosts of Horror

Greetings and Salutations noble readers of the blog,

Tonight we are in the unconsecrated graveyard of the old Catholic Church. If you’ve accompanied me to this location before, you know you are in for a special treat. Tonight’s guest is not specifically known as a horror writer. His vast body of work includes, travel logs, poetry, historical observations, letters, novels and short stories. His best known work is Treasure Island. With no further ado, please give it up for, Robert Louis Stevenson.

“Welcome Robert, please make yourself comfortable.”

220px-Robert_Louis_Stevenson_Knox_Series

Our guest Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson's Grave on Mt. Vaea Samoa

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Grave on Mt. Vaea Samoa

 

“Thank you so much for having me. My impression was you wanted to talk about my more fanciful work.”

“That’s true, but I can’t begin without first telling you what an impact Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Black Arrow had on me as a boy. I’ve fancied myself a ‘Young Jim Hawkins’ on more than one occasion. Hiding in the apple barrel, or keeping a weather eye out for a seafaring man with one leg.”

“It’s kind of you to say sir.”

“To your point, we here are most interested in your tales as they relate to the unexplained. The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde for example.”

“A most interesting tale of a good man, who in the name of science, commits atrocities.”

“The doctor over reaching is certainly a recurring theme in literature. Mary Shelly’s Dr. Frankenstein is possibly the most well-known.”

“Quite, Mary’s concept of man subjugating the Creator has always been one of my favorites. How I would have relished a summer on Lake Geneva with the likes of Percy and Mary Shelly, Lord Byron, Dr. Pollidori.”

“The good Doctor Jekyll creates an elixir that separates good from evil in a man. Is this a discourse on the dual nature of man?”

“Exactly, it illustrates how our good, tempers our bad, by showing what our natures are like when isolated.”

“Some will point to this story as an example of an individual suffering from mental illness. Dissociative Identity Disorder, Manic Depression, Schizophrenia, and Psychosis are the most closely related diagnosis. Did you know someone who suffered from any of these illnesses?”

“Of course, we all encounter people in our lives who suffer from disorders of the brain. The earliest physicians recognized that there are illnesses that they could label, but not treat.”

“Speaking of doctors.  Dr. Jekyll is not the only antagonist doctor you’ve written about. Of course I’m thinking of Dr. Toddy Macfarlane. The Body Snatcher is one of my favorite short stories. One I often read  when the I’m moved to scare someone.”

“I too, am quite fond of that tale.” His broad smile reaches past his eyes lighting up the night. “‘Did you think me dead? We are not so easily shut of our acquaintance.'”

“Very nice Robert, I don’t suppose you’ve memorized every line of every thing you’ve written.”

“Hardly sir, but at least one telling line from all the fiction to be sure. And much of the poetry. It seems in my current state my faculties have remained sharp. Oh, but if I could only write something from grave, the stories I could tell.”

“What keeps you from it?”

His countenance darkens at my question. “There are powers to be reckoned with. Formal Federations that must be abided. They do not take kindly to one who would disregard their authority.”

“We had a visitor who simply walked away from here into the world of the living. That must be against the rules.”

“Yes, quite, to remark that the regime was distressed by that act of indifference would be to understate the obvious.”

“I’m getting the wrap it sign Robert. Can you stay a while after my guests have gone?”

“I’ll stay until I get the hook as they say on the stage.”

“Wonderful, give me a moment.”

“Folks I suggest you make your way from the cemetery while the spirits are protecting us. Mr. Stevenson has agreed to hang around a while for those who are willing to risk it.”

Next week I expect Mischievous Raven will be back from his business meetings on the left coast. in the interim be safe.

As is our custom, I leave you with this quote.

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”
― Van Morrison

Writ On,

Eerie Dwarf, AKA Dave Benneman

P.S.

Mr. Stevenson kept us through the night until dawn broke telling tails of his life on Samoa and sailing the South Pacific. I say this as an explanation as to why this did not get posted last night. My apologies for any inconvenience.

E.D.

 

 

Soldiers vs. Aliens…it’s Phoenix Comicon panels! #milspecfic #writingtips

The wild and strange phenomena whipped through Phoenix a few weeks back under the guise of the Phoenix Comicon. The Knight managed to snag a family photo op with the legendary Nathan Fillion, which we have since decided to use for our next Christmas Card. Seriously, we have NEVER taken such a great family pic. I’m going to have to insist Nathan be in EVERY family photo from here on out.

But I digress.  The Prankster Duo, the Knight and I did not don our costume apparel, but did wander the wild paths of comicon for hours marveling at other’s apparel. It’s a visual feast, one I firmly believe every individual should indulge in at least once. While we were there, I snuck into some writing panels, because, yes, that’s what I do. I haunt/stalk other writers hoping their genius shall some how drift along the winds of creation and flutter down upon me so I may enjoy the wonders of their creative minds.

I sat in two panels: Writing Rogues and Military in Spec Fic.

I’m going to hit the Military panel in this post. Check in next week, because I have a huge discussion point for Writing Rogues for next week. I just didn’t want to keep you here for hours. Again, we’re going off my notes, which were jotted down so they may be a bit scattered.

I picked the Military in Spec Fic because I’m getting ready to start the second PSY-IV Teams book and no matter how many times I grill…errr..ask politely, of my military friends, I’m always seeking more information. The panelists were: Daniel Abraham, John Scalzi, Myke Cole, Ty Franck, Weston Ochse.  Just so you know, until this panel I had read Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series, had heard of John Scalzi (who hasn’t? Old Man’s War, Hugo winner for Redshirts…overall smart ass, in a good way), Ty and Daniel write as a team, and my note taking sucks because I don’t have their titles down, and Weston, well, he does SEAL Team 666 and his latest is Grunt Life.

I knew going into a series revolving around military I’d be taking on certain story elements I was going to screw up. After listening to these guys, I’m even more certain of it. But I’ll figure it out as I go along.

Myke is active Coast Guard reserve, Weston actively served, just recently got out to write full-time, Daniel and Ty have immediate family (lots of) who are active military, and so does John. It’s not like they’re unfamiliar with the world, and it’s filled with rules that have their own rules.  That being said, research is key if you’re going to write any story with military ties. It’s vital.

But more than research, you need to listen. Listen to those who’ve walked the walk, take the time to really listen to the stories they tell. Read between the lines at what is not said or how something is said.  Serve as a witness.

All of these writers weave the military with speculation on what happens when we run into an alien force more disciplined, more powerful, more massive than ours? How do the lowly humans survive?

They spoke to characterization, specifically what drives an individual to serve their country. How character decides their loyalty–to the authority, to their team, to those they protect. In actuality most soldiers are loyal to the man/woman fighting next to him, not for the country that sent them out unprepared, or the lofty ideals that won’t save an innocent, not the money or power. If you do a stereotype, you’re doing your writing a disservice because soldiers are just individuals who chose to serve.

The one thing that sung deep for me–there are no right answers to moral dilemmas. There is an entire universe in gray. What’s considered the right thing in an extreme situation varies on the point of view of the person making that choice–the Allied solider, the alien invaders, the officer, the lowly grunt. Each one will face the same situation differently.What you think is the “good” guys, may actually be the “bad” guys. Can a character be a traitor and hero at the same time–yes. Making a moral choice comes down to the individual and what they are willing to do/sacrifice for that choice.

These men were great, and I can’t express how much I appreciated hearing their take on this, because one of my biggest challenges is making sure each member of the PSY-IV comes across as an individual. As much I’d like them all to resemble GI Joe, it ain’t happening, and it would make a damn boring story if it did.

If you love Speculative Fiction with your military suspense, I would recommend any of these authors.

Do you have any others to add to the list?

Growing as a Writer

This past week, I’ve been editing a book I haven’t picked up for a year. In my mind, the novel was a handful of weeks from being ready to publish. But I found something interesting as I started reading; I’ve grown a lot as a writer since my last draft. The beginning of one of my chapters read something like this:

Three dreary months had passed since coming to the castle. During this time, I was trained by Emily and Sara. Both had vastly different teaching styles, but I also came to learn a great deal about them as people.

It goes on like this for two and a half more pages, recapping all my character learned over three months. I got to the end of this section and thought, I’m telling a lot, but I’m showing nothing. So, I rewrote it to sound more like this.

I loved the training room in the mornings. It was the one place I could be alone with my thoughts.

“You’re here early.”

I whirled to find Emily staring at me from the doorframe. My heart raced. She never instructed me without sending a missive first, her time was too valuable.

“I couldn’t sleep.”

She crosses her arms in front of her chest. “It’s been three months since you first arrived. Emily and Sara have trained you the best they can, now it’s time to test your new skills.”

These examples aren’t perfect yet, but they show a little bit about how my perspective has changed as a writer. Every time I write something, I try to ask myself if I am showing or telling my reader. Because if I am only telling them what is happening, they aren’t going to feel like they are in the story. And if they don’t feel like they are in the story, then I don’t feel like I’ve done my job as a writer.

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