Monday, April 21, 2014

Get the Picture - A Tip from Robert Newton Peck

I've had the pleasure of hearing Robert Newton Peck speak not once, but twice. And each time, was a treat. The man is a one person entertainment extravaganza. But, all of that aside. He knows how to write and he does it very well.

He's written a book titled "Secrets of Successful Fiction - A fun-to-read, easy-to-master toolkit for writers of all ages." And that's exactly what it is. I'm going to reference it from time to time, as it's full of genuine nuggets of writing information that I want to share with you.

Today's piece is "Get the Picture" and it's about Showing not Telling.

He uses a wonderful example about how millions of Americans used to "watch" their radios every evening before television was invented. Why did they do this? Because they wanted a picture. Not just the voices. Readers do the same thing, he wrote. They want the pictures, not just the words.

Mr. Peck tells us that an amateur writer would tell us a story while a pro shows the story. For example, he went on to use the following:

An amateur would write: "Bill was nervous."

The pro would write: "Bill sat in a dentist's waiting room, peeling the skin at the edge of his thumb, until the raw, red flesh began to show. Biting the torn cuticle, he rubbed it away, and sucked at the warm sweetness of his own blood."

You can see the obvious difference can't you?

Don't bore your reader with a lot of telling. Paint pictures for your reader to see the action, the emotion, the pictures.

As Robert Newton Peck would say, "Do this, and you are a pro. Writing is not listing emotions. Writing is physics. Moving parts. Things. Writing is show business. Get the picture?"