Monday, July 24, 2017

Show, Don't Tell

"Show, don't tell." If you're a writer, you've probably heard this as advice from other writers and read about it in craft books many, many times. I was recently asked to explain it to a new writer, but after using a few "for instances", I decided to find something that would do a better job of describing it.

Here's an excellent article by Erin over at Daily Writing Tips.  If you're new to writing, this information will help you clearly understand how to show and not tell! By the way, I just discovered Daily Writing Tips, and it's a great place to find answers for any writing questions you may have!

Show, Dont Tell 

Anyone who’s ever written a short story or taken a freshman composition course has heard the words “show, don’t tell.”

I know those words can be frustrating. You might not know exactly what “show, don’t tell” means. Or you might believe that you are showing when you’re really telling.

While “telling” can be useful, even necessary, most people don’t realize how vital “showing” is to an effective story, essay, or even a blog post. Showing allows the reader to follow the author into the moment, to see and feel and experience what the author has experienced. Using the proper balance of showing and telling will make your writing more interesting and effective.

“Okay, I get it,” you’re thinking. “But how do I do it? How do I bring more ‘showing’ into my writing?”

I’m glad you asked. Here are some tips that will help make your writing more vivid and alive for your reader.

1. Use dialogue
This is probably one of the first things I talk to my students about when I have them write personal essays. Dialogue allows the reader to experience a scene as if they were there. Instead of telling the reader your mom was angry, they can hear it for themselves:
“Justin Michael,” mom bellowed, “Get in here this instant!”
Dialogue can give your reader a great deal about character, emotion and mood.

2. Use sensory language
In order for readers to fully experience what you’re writing about, they need to be able to see, hear, taste, smell and touch the world around them. Try to use language that incorporates several senses, not just sight.

3. Be descriptive
I’m sure everyone remembers learning to use adjectives and adverbs in elementary school. When we’re told to be more descriptive, it’s easy to go back to those things that we were taught. But being descriptive is more than just inserting a string of descriptive words. It’s carefully choosing the right words and using them sparingly to convey your meaning.
The following example is from a short story I wrote.

Telling: He sits on the couch holding his guitar.

There’s nothing wrong with that sentence. It gives the reader some basic information, but it doesn’t create an image. Compare that sentence with this:

Showing: His eyes are closed, and he’s cradling the guitar in his arms like a lover. It’s as if he’s trying to hold on to something that wants to let go.

The second example takes that basic information and paints a picture with it. It also uses figurative language—in this case, the simile “cradling the guitar in his arms like a lover”—to help create an image.

When using description, it’s important not to overdo it. Otherwise, you can end up with what I call “police blotter” description. For example:
He was tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. He wore a red shirt and jeans, and a brown leather jacket.

4. Be specific, not vague
This is another one I’m constantly reminding my college students about. Frequently, they will turn in essays with vague, fuzzy language. I’m not sure if they think this type of writing sounds more academic, but all it really does is frustrate the reader.


Instead of writing, “I had never felt anything like it before in my entire life,” take the time to try and describe what that feeling was, and then decide how best to convey that feeling to the reader. Your readers will thank you for it.

Hope this information from Daily Writing Tips is useful. If you're a seasoned writer, have you had to explain "show, don't tell" to a novice?  If you're new to writing, have ever had questions about it?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 10/7/13

Monday, July 17, 2017

Kalua Pork with Cabbage


In the middle of summer, who wants to spend a long time in the kitchen over a hot stove? Even with air conditioning, it can still get pretty hot in the heart of the home.

Today I'm sharing a super easy crock pot dish that my mother-in-law introduced me to a couple of years ago. It takes only minutes to prepare and my kids love it. I posted this recipe back in December of 2015, but it's certainly worth posting again!

This meal is great for a busy weeknight. Serve with hot applesauce and a salad. Enjoy!

Kalua Pork with Cabbage

7 slices bacon
1 T coarse salt
1 3-4 lb pork roast (I used a 3 lb pork loin)
1 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 cup pineapple chunks

Place four strips of bacon in bottom of slow cooker. Salt all sides of pork roast, then place on top of bacon in slow cooker. Put the remaining bacon on top of pork roast. Cover and cook on LOW 8-10 hours or until meat is tender. Put cabbage and pineapple chunks on top of roast and cook an additional 1 1/4 hours, or until cabbage is tender.

Have you ever heard of this recipe?  Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Interracial Love: Conflict Supreme

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Denise Turney on her Off The Shelf Radio program. We discussed interracial relationships, which is what I focus on in my novels. You can click here for a link to the interview.

Talking with Denise brought this blog post to mind that I published back in November of 2010. If you missed it the first time around, hope you'll enjoy it today!

"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." Aristotle

Who doesn't enjoy a good love story? But what drives one to make it great? Conflict!
And when you throw an interracial element into the mix (pun intended) you have an intensely compelling and emotionally volatile story.

Several films address this topic including, Come See the Paradise (Japanese/white American), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (white/black American), Mississippi Masala (Asian Indian/ Black American), Something New and Jungle Fever (both white/black American).

Othello
Throughout history, interracial love has been a topic of great literature. In Shakespeare's Othello, a Moor is married to Venetian, Desdemona. Here racism is seen as Iago schemes to break up their marriage. Hoping to spur Desdemona's father Brabantino to annul the union, Iago tells him "an old black ram is tupping your white ewe."

In Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the slave Cassie is repeatedly raped by her master Simon Legree.  But she's also been in a previous relationship with her former master, who she loved. "I became his willingly, for I loved him!" Cassie says in chapter 34.

Sinclair Lewis's Kingsblood Royal tells the story of a bigoted character who discovers he has a small percentage of African blood, then falls in love with a black friend named Sophie.  When he held her hand, it was "warmer than any hand he had ever known," and when she kissed him, "he had not known a kiss like that..."  For more interracial love in literature, see Doug Poe's post on Interracial Sex in Classic Literature here.

Out of all multicultural combinations, perhaps the most explosive in our country is black and white. Make it a love story in the American South of the past--and POW!

Something New
I'm black, and my husband is white, but many years ago I began to think how sad it would've been if we'd lived a century earlier. Back then, we couldn't have married. That thought inspired me to write my first novel, Escape, about the abolitionist son of a wealthy merchant who falls in love with a slave he helps to escape.

After reading Essie Mae Washington Williams's memoir Dear Senator, I wrote my second novel, The Governor's Sons. Ms. Williams's memoir told of her black mother's love affair with her white father, future South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond.  In my novel, a rich white law student plans to sacrifice everything and move overseas for the black woman he loves.

All through our country's history, interracial love has ignited conflict.  Forbidden Fruit by Betty DeRamus and  Martha Hodes's WhiteWomenBlack Men are two fascinating non-fiction accounts on the subject.

The topic of Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson's black mistress, was swept under the rug by history, and Jefferson's white descendants, until DNA tests revealed that her descendants, were Jefferson's as well.

Although there was an enormous amount of rape and exploitation of black women by white men in the United States (especially the South), there was also love.

If a plantation owner chose a slave as his "wife" and actually lived with her, he'd become an outcast from the community.  To prevent being ostracized, some white men, assuming the facade of bachelors to friends and family, would set up separate housing and provide financially for their black "wives" and children. And then there were those white men who chose to have two families, one white and the other black, hidden away in the shadows.

Thank goodness it's a different time!  Although still a touchy topic among both the black and white communities, at least as human beings we can freely love whomever we fall in love with.  As the old cliche goes, "love has no color."

Do you know of an interracial love story to share?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Off the Shelf Interview

I usually post only once a week, but today I'm sharing a little shameless self-promotion. I'll be joining author Denise Turney on Off the Shelf Book Talk Radio this Saturday, July 8, 2017, from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. for an interview! Please tune in at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Denise-Turney-

I am thrilled to be joining Denise! She is a journalist, editor and author of several books including Portia, Love Has Many Faces, Spiral, Long Walk Up, Rosetta's Great Hope and Love Pour Over Me. She is also a two-time Navy Achievement Medal winner. 

Her works have appeared in various national and international periodicals among which include: Parade, Madame Noire, USA Today, Obsidian II, Essence, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, The Bucks County Courier Times, The Trenton Times, Sisters In Style, Today’s Black Woman and The Trenton State College Literary Review.

Denise Turney has spoken at the prestigious Spelman College, facilitated the Women of Color: Financial Independence Conference at the Philadelphia Community College, The Aspiring Writer’s Conference in Philadelphia, and served as a panelist for Take Our Daughters To Work Day at Merrill Lynch in Princeton, New Jersey. Denise travels the country speaking and connecting with readers at large national events that host 40,000 – 1 million attendees.

Many thanks to Denise for the opportunity to be interviewed by her. I'm looking forward to Saturday!

Link to July 8 interview:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/denise-turney-/2017/07/08/exploring-interracial-relationships

Monday, July 3, 2017

Another Transformers Movie?

Okay, I have a confession to make. I love Transformers. Don't get me wrong, not the movies, with the exception of the first one (Transformers, released in 2007), but the animated TV series Transformers: Energon. Apparently the Transformers animated series has a very long history dating back to the 1980s, which I am not familiar with. Energon, however, I know quite well and it was a pretty awesome show!

The cartoon used to come on one of the cable networks at 6:30 a.m. and it was a great way to get my kids out of bed for school in the mornings. "Come on," I'd say, "get up and eat your breakfast, so you can watch Transformers before we go to school." I'd watch too. And talk about amazing toys that could transform from vehicles to robots! They were great, and pretty fun to play with too. All I played with as a kid were Barbie dolls. Too bad Transformers weren't around back then. I'm not sure how many Transformers we purchased for our kids, but we accumulated quite an army!

I remember being sooooo excited when the first Transformers movie came out. It was phenomenal (I mean, if you like lots of action and explosions)! The kids sat wide-eyed through the whole thing, and so did I.  The best part was watching the characters transform; very cool computer animation was used.  The second
movie was okay, and the third was, well, less than okay. I didn't even realize a fourth one had been released, and then yesterday I read about number five that's out now. The review I read said the worst part about it was that it left you knowing that yet another sequel was still to come. Enough already--at least in my humble opinion. But I realize that as long as the franchise keeps making money, the movies will keep being produced.

They could have stopped after one, but I feel that way about most films that have sequels. Have you ever seen a sequel that was better than the original?

Thanks for visiting and have great week!