@HoustonHavens secretsSecrets of Writing a Bestseller

Today I’d like to share a Secret…on writing. When I was an unpublished writer all the published authors had a mantra: Show Don’t Tell. They said it so much, I felt like that was the only advice they had…and I was sick of it! First, that motto didn’t make sense to me – so I would be damned if I was going to follow such advice…yep, that’s me, a feisty Irish lass….a woman who walks her own path and will pay the price to walk it the way I please…thank you very much. And just so you know, I prefer to do a wee jig as I dance through me life – at least I can die saying – I did it my way…with a dance in me step.

It was then, as an unpublished writer when I decided to write a book called ‘Secrets On Writing A Bestseller’ and I set out to uncover those published authors’ secrets at getting published with every intent on telling each and every one of those secrets they guarded amongst themselves.

I’m not afraid of competition. I’m a firm believer there are plenty of readers to go around and share. No author has the same voice in telling a story, because our telling comes from our interests, beliefs, and slant on life and the subject in which the plot is taking place. No two beings have the same exact way of seeing things. NOT EVEN TWINS. Trust me I know, I’m a twin.

Though I’m working on Renegade Rapture, the fifth book in my Psychic Menage Series, I have started drafting a how-to book that I will be teaching at the coming Midwest Writers Conference (Indianapolis IN) for writers and authors this year. The first question I know you’ll be asking is – “Well, if it isn’t Show Don’t Tell then what is it?”

My answer is what I did (as well as other secrets) to get my very first book published by a major publisher and have it hit Amazon’s International and National Bestsellers list in six days of it release. I shared this answer in the first chapter of my book  ‘Secrets On Writing A Bestseller’ and you can get a sneak peek at my (coming release) answer right now.

CHAPTER ONE

Dispelling the Myths:

Myth Number One (and it’s a whooper): SHOW DON’T TELL

Really? If I showed EVERYTHING a simple novel would become a tome.  It’s NOT Show Don’t Tell
But
Show And Tell. The Secret is knowing what to show and what to tell, and it’s not that hard to know which and when to do it IF you’re told the rule.

Show the emotions and tell the actions.

EX: From my novel Sinful Surrender: book One of my Psychic Menage Series

EXCERPT:

Logan entered the room he used when he was in one of his voyeur moods. Drakker didn’t mind or care about his secret intrusions. He’d had this two-way mirrored chamber and the outer room built for two purposes. One, to keep Arlo from complaining about hearing Drakker’s more adventurous sex romps. And two, for rare occasions like this when it suited as an interrogation room. A world with continuous bouts of war left no room for normalcy in their leader’s life or home.
Arlo sat in the viewing room wearing a disgruntled expression, his arms crossed over his chest. His brother was young and still filled with piss and vinegar from time to time when stupidity of youth overruled his common sense. “What the fuck is going on?” Arlo’s anger exploded all over him before he could even find a seat. “You said this was to be an interrogation.”
“It is.”
“Really?” His wide-eyed stare said he didn’t believe him. “Then why did you undress her? Does your new method of questioning involve some form of defilement?”
“Defile– If you’re insinuating what I think you are, I should slug you for the insulting remark.” He slumped into a chair, bewildered by his brother’s offensive comment. Arlo knew them. He knew better. “Why would you all of a sudden start thinking we’d use any form of violence to interrogate a woman?”
“The answer to that stupid question stands there for itself, don’t you think?” Arlo glared through the mirror toward Fay’s chained and nearly naked form.
Logan’s glance followed. He could see where a stranger might conclude that, but not his own brother. He knew their strong beliefs against violence on women and children. “Arlo, things aren’t always what they appear to be. At Twenty-three, you’re old enough to know that.”
“Then stop talking to me like I’m a child or some moron.” He pounded his thumb into his own chest. “You’re not my fucking father!”
All the heat drained from Logan’s face, replaced with a cold, silent rage. He narrowed his eyes into icy slits at the affront. His words echoed Arlo’s but were laced with righteousness. “Not my fucking father?” Logan ground his teeth together so hard they hurt, but it gave him a moment to think before he spoke. “You idolized your blood father. Yet, you dishonor his soul with a reference like fucking, and you insult Drakker and me with your insinuations of abuse and torture?”
“Stop it! You’re twisting the meaning of everything I say so you can avoid answering my questions, and you’re doing it on purpose.”
“No, I’m not. I’m trying to understand what’s going on in your head. What makes you so virtuous you feel you have the right to judge others and hurt those who love you?” He jutted forward in his chair but kept himself from getting up; afraid he’d knock some sense into Arlo. “We’ve never used any form of pain to interrogate a woman. Why would we start now? What in the hell is going on with you?”

***

Now, let’s dissect this passage for the secret I’m discussing here: Show AND tell

Logan entered the room he used when he was in one of his voyeur moods.

In earlier chapters readers are told (through a technique called ‘foreshadowing’) about Logan through the dialogue of two other characters (Fay and her Mind Traveler guide). In the very first chapter of the novel, when the heroine first sees a picture of Logan, a bit of what he looks like is told but not everything. What’s shown is her emotional reaction (how his looks affect her body-he’s the hero after all and she’s the heroine, there has to be an attraction) to what she sees of him in the photograph. Then in chapter two, more is told  (foreshadowed) through another conversation between his two brothers (Arlo and Drakker). Readers discover some insight to what he looks like and that Logan’s the respected leader of the Airbornes (His people). Then more of what he looks like is told later  in the chapter when Fay sees Logan in person for the first time. Again, being that the scene is in her Point of View (POV), I show what she feels about what she sees.

However, having others reveal what another character looks like and does isn’t the only way to tell and show a character. Remember, there is more than ‘looks’ to a character. As an author you have to expose (show) the personality (His emotions, quirks, temper, and beliefs) of the character to the readers so they can connect. You decide how your readers will react to a character (Love, hate, or sympathize) by showing/exposing his traits…ALL his traits through deep Point of View (POV-discussed later in this book)

By Logan’s description being shown in such bits and pieces and sprinkled throughout the first few chapters by several characters, and done at the proper place within the book’s framework (discussed later in this book), readers don’t feel like they’re getting an info dump, but rather a slow exposure of this man.

Logan entered the room he used when he was in one of his voyeur moods.

However, at this point in the book (Logan’s just physically appeared on the scene – it’s the first the readers have actually meet him. So, it’s not important HOW he WALKED into the room (Logan strutted/stormed/marched/ran – you get what I mean) There is a bigger message I’ve spotlight for the readers to notice here. This first sentence tells something the reader doesn’t know about this character that the characters who spoke about him before couldn’t have known. I have Logan himself reveal to the readers things about himself by using (shown from Logan’s POV) Point of View. This sentence above tells something only he and his brother Drakker know about him – he’s a voyeur.

But do notice, I didn’t stop at telling he was a voyeur, the last word of this sentence also tells more about Logan than his looks or what he is. I give a hint to his character as a man – he’s moody. I gave the reader a lot of information in just 15 words.

Now the SHOWING part: I’ve highlighted all the showing parts of this scene: Notice the words I’ve picked that SHOW character, emotions, relationships, and description.

Logan entered the room he used when he was in one of his voyeur moods. Drakker didn’t mind or care about his secret intrusions. He’d had this two-way mirrored chamber and the outer room built for two purposes. One, to keep Arlo from complaining about hearing Drakker’s more adventurous sex romps. And two, for rare occasions like this when it suited as an interrogation room. A world with continuous bouts of war left no room for normalcy in their leader’s life or home.

In this above Paragraph I SHOWED (In red) through Logan’s POV how he felt or thought about his brothers and what he thought about his life, but I did it within the content of the plot. I didn’t want to use blatant sentences like; Logan thought his brother Arlo was a complainer. Logan hated his life. These are too basic a sentence (It screams NEWBIE to an editor) and would take too many words just to say all that this one sentence says about both brothers.  One, to keep Arlo from complaining about hearing Drakker’s more adventurous sex romps.

Below you’ll see more of the showing words I used to SHOW EMOTION and deep POV in the characters. PLEASE NOTICE – Their dialogue is more than Dialogue – I use dialogue to SHOW not only what they’re feeling, but the dynamics of the relationship between the characters. So, don’t fill your story with useless chit-chat, make the dialogue work for you in showing and telling your tale. By going to all this work you’ll give your readers a fuller story that will earn you 5 star reviews and get you on the bestsellers list.

This scene is seen from Logan’s POV. and be sure to notice – I have emotional description and action description throughout this exchange. Both types of description SHOWS a picture to the reader (even when it’s TELLING).

Arlo sat in the viewing room wearing a disgruntled expression, his arms crossed over his chest. His brother was young and still filled with piss and vinegar from time to time when stupidity of youth overruled his common sense. “What the fuck is going on?” Arlo’s anger exploded all over him before he could even find a seat. “You said this was to be an interrogation.”
“It is.”
“Really?” His wide-eyed stare said he didn’t believe him. “Then why did you undress her? Does your new method of questioning involve some form of defilement?”
“Defile– If you’re insinuating what I think you are, I should slug you for the insulting remark.” He slumped into a chair, bewildered by his brother’s offensive comment. Arlo knew them. He knew better. “Why would you all of a sudden start thinking we’d use any form of violence to interrogate a woman?”
“The answer to that stupid question stands there for itself, don’t you think?” Arlo glared through the mirror toward Fay’s chained and nearly naked form.
Logan’s glance followed. He could see where a stranger might conclude that, but not his own brother. He knew their strong beliefs against violence on women and children. “Arlo, things aren’t always what they appear to be. At Twenty-three, you’re old enough to know that.”
“Then stop talking to me like I’m a child or some moron.” He pounded his thumb into his own chest. “You’re not my fucking father!”
All the heat drained from Logan’s face, replaced with a cold, silent rage. He narrowed his eyes into icy slits at the affront. His words echoed Arlo’s but were laced with righteousness. “Not my fucking father?” Logan ground his teeth together so hard they hurt, but it gave him a moment to think before he spoke. “You idolized your blood father. Yet, you dishonor his soul with a reference like fucking, and you insult Drakker and me with your insinuations of abuse and torture?”
“Stop it! You’re twisting the meaning of everything I say so you can avoid answering my questions, and you’re doing it on purpose.”
“No, I’m not. I’m trying to understand what’s going on in your head. What makes you so virtuous you feel you have the right to judge others and hurt those who love you?” He jutted forward in his chair but kept himself from getting up; afraid he’d knock some sense into Arlo. “We’ve never used any form of pain to interrogate a woman. Why would we start now? What in the hell is going on with you?”

In my coming book, I will go into more details on the SECRETS used by published authors. Until then, go look at your work and see where you can SHOW more emotion and Tell (through dialogue or actions) more revealing details in your novel. Remember, every word must WORK your plot forward – if it doesn’t – it CANNOT stay. As an author you have a limited word count – so every word has to show or tell the reader something.

And PLEASE – Don’t spend two paragraphs talking about the characters Donald duck PJ and her pink Bunny slippers if those two items play no further part in the story – the only time you talk about the clothing is to stir an emotion in the character who’s looking at the clothing or a piece of the clothing you’re spotlight for the reader ends up being the clue to finding the murdered victim or their murderer.

EX: In the fourth book Intimate Betrayal of the Psychic Menage Series I wrote:

Sori watched the sexy sway of her ample hips in the tight black skirt she wore as she slowly sauntered toward him, closing the remaining distance between them.

Because, just a few paragraphs later I say: 

…he bragged before dragging his attention from Kindise’s stunned expression to stare at the sled. Casting a scan back to her, he dropped his gaze from the top of her head down to her toes then shot another look at the carriage. No wonder she looked so stupefied. Dressed as she was the woman would need help just to make the first step. 

As the reader discovers her clothing forces him to pick her up into his arms…the tight skirt makes that “special” contact where I SHOW the attraction between them.

SHOW AND TELL!  Now you know where!

Hugs and kisses – PS If you enjoyed this article and would like me to write more like this, please let me know by commenting (even if it’s just a happy face), so I know you want more. Remember – if you enjoyed it so might your friends. So please remember to share this with them.

#HoustonHavens author secrets

 

 

Houston

 

 

 

 

 



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