Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To Answer My Questions

In the space of half an hour yesterday I had three questions answered.

Question #1: Is my current wip women's fiction?

Answer, courtesy of Jessica Foust at Bookends:
"One of the reason women’s fiction is so hard to define is because the definition is so simple, and so broad. Women’s fiction is fiction that appeals to women. In my mind that means the protagonist could be man, woman, child or even dog. I also think women’s fiction tends to have a greater level of emotion than some other books. It’s a book that tugs on the heartstrings, so to speak. I know, I know, a lot of books that wouldn’t be defined as women’s fiction could fit that definition as well, but a lot of books that would never be called romance also have romance in them."

Question #2: What exactly IS showing vs. telling? (too many posts to link)

Answer, courtesy of Nathan Bransford:
"My interpretation is this...: universal emotions should not be "told." Instead, we should be shown how the character is reacting to their feelings.

"...emotions are universal: we all feel sad, angry, happy, emotional, etc. etc. But how we react to those emotions are completely and infinitely different. That's what we find interesting.

"This also applies to:
- Descriptions - It's not interesting to merely hear that someone is "pretty" - what characteristics make them pretty?
- Characterizing relationships - Not interesting to only hear that two people are "close". How are they close? What do they do together?"

His entire post is well worth reading, but those are the bits that most resonated with me.

Question #3: What the heck are my neighbors building?"

Answer: They appear to be closets. Go figure. (A man was actually pummeling the brick with a sledgehammer while I took the picture -- you can sort of make him out in the opening.)

Thoughts? Do you show or tell? Write about dogs and their feelings? Have you added three feet of depth to your house for a couple closets?


WendyCinNYC said...

If I had just one more big closet in my apartment, I'd be so happy. Can you send that dude over here?

Allen said...

"Have you added three feet of depth to your house for a couple closets?"

I have. I've also added 30" to one park of my house to add a gas fireplace. But I am a contractor, so that might make me more apt to tear out a wall after a few hours of social interaction with my good buddy Jack. Mr. Daniels is so helpful with creative ideas at 2AM.

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, I'll give him your info. :P

Allen, you've just made me very happy that alcohol puts Ibis to sleep. Construction skills + excitability over new projects could be trouble!

Stacey Graham said...

I loved Nathan's post; I have it saved in my files for later, in fact. I'm big on description (though I avoid the Anne Rice - 30 pages describing a sunset - method) so it's great to have a reminder of what will move the story along and what bogs it down (the aforementioned Rice).

Natasha Fondren said...

Wow, that's a big closet! LOL!

I have to check out Nathan's post now. :-)

Janna Qualman said...

That's the most concise definition of women's fiction I've seen, and I appreciate it. Lets me know I'm on the right path with my thinking.

And I've just realized, I thought I was a follower of Bransford's blog, but I don't ever get notification of his posts. Hmm...

Melanie Avila said...

Stacey, don't scare me off from Ann Rice -- I have her Vampire Chronicles weighing down my shelf. :P Nathan's post really helped me a lot. I'm slowly getting the show v tell thing, but he explained it in a way I can understand.

Natasha, there are FOUR of them!

Janna, I felt like the Bookends post was so clear -- and obvious -- that hit me over the head. I was kind of describing it that way, but she made it much clearer. My reader acts up now & then, too.

JLC said...

All three are very interesting! Especially the 'show vs tell' info. That one has been a very gray area for me! Thanks for posting it!

To answer your questions....
1. Not anymore!
2. If the dogs are mutated robots, then perhaps I could!
3. We actually prefer to remove ours! (Anyone want a spare closet?)

Melanie Avila said...

Yay, you answered my questions!!

1 - ROFL!
2 - If anyone can, I agree it's you.
3 - Yes, please.

Stacey Graham said...


Actually, she's not all crazy bits. I did enjoy the Mayfair Witches, so much so that I named my first daughter after the protag: Rowyn. ;)

Melanie Avila said...

Good to know. I bought the trilogy because I felt like I needed to expand what I read, but they're all in one book and the size is intimidating!

Ed Pahule said...

Great questions. Great answers. :)

Nadine said...

Love the description of womens fiction! I tend to tell a lot more than show but I'm working on it. Loved the way Nathan put it so simply. Makes total sense. As for closets, we're doing pretty good. Although they don't have doors but we've gotten used to it.

ElanaJ said...

Closets? Um, okay. I'm not sure about that. But whatever. And great links to the answers of your questions. :)

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Ed. :)

Nadine, it amazes me how easily she broke it down. I would LOVE more closet space -- we just have two and it's all the storage we have.

Thanks Elana.

Robin said...

Wow. This is a really cool discussion, and a happy coincidence, because I've been thinking a lot about the "telling versus showing" problem with writing a screenplay. It's really hard to convey things to the audience through the interaction and story only, when sometimes you just feel like sticking in a narrator. I've resisted a narrator so far, but it's tough.