Thursday, April 03, 2008

Writing Prompts: Show Don't Tell

We haven't had a writing exercise around here for a long time, so I thought I'd throw one out just for grins. I'm a member of Absolute Write and on their forum, there's a whole list of writing games, exercises and prompts that I participate in now and then. I especially enjoy the Show Don't Tell exercise. It's fun and easy. Here's how it works.

I'll offer a mundane sentence that needs a lot of help. You flex your writerly muscles by bringing the sentence to life. You can expand on the image, engage a variety of senses, add a narrative twist, introduce a character, use dialogue, create an entire scene, anything you want. Just make sure that whatever you do, you must show, not tell.

Play with all the sentences, or mess around with just one. Your choice. Post them in the comments section, or keep them to yourself. It's totally up to you.

Here's a short example with the first sentence:

The glass was half full.

The amber liquid filled the glass midway, just to where the frosted etching of flowers marched in circles around the crystal. Petals touched stems, which touched leaves, then on to petals again. A reflection of flowers floated on the whiskey's surface like a wreath.

I'm going to give you three more to choose from, or you can do them all:

The cat lay by the fire.

The snow fell.

Wanda said hello to Frank.

Okay, there you go. Have at it, and have fun!


wavybrains said...

Wanda slid into the seat next to Frank. The rest of the bus was empty, but that didn't phase Wanda. The scent of oranges and vanilla traveled with her and it arid embrace made Frank glad he'd skipped breakfast.

He clutched his briefcase tightly to him, and adjusted his glasses. "Keep looking straight ahead, and it will all be over soon," he told himself.

But it was no use, "Hi, Frank," Wanda drawled, running a mangenta fingernail up his starched shirt.

Game on.

Heaven help him.

Karen Duvall said...

Very nice, Wavy! 8^) Thanks for playing. For I while there I thought I'd be the only one. Hey, where is everybody?

I like the setting of the bus you set up for your scene.

Alice Sharpe said...

Hey, Karen, I'm getting a cold and feel icky but I tried one:

The cat lay by the fire until an ember landed on his tail.
"Look at that cat run," John said, glancing up from the newspaper.
"He's on fire," Dennis offered, catching a whiff of smoking fur.
Marie nodded sagely. "He's headed for the snow bank."

I'm not sure if I showed or told. If I did it wrong, show me how to do it right. Sniff, cough, wheeze...

Fun blog.

Karen Duvall said...

You did it right, Alice, lol! 8^) I can see it, and if that isn't showing I don't know what is.

Sorry about your cold. My husband has a doozey and I'm trying really hard not to catch it. I'm taking Host Defense, and it usually works for me if I start taking it in time. It would be too late for you since you've already caught the cold.

Rest, fluids, yadda yadda. Take care!

wavybrains said...

where's piper when we need her? She loves these gamrs :)

Paty Jager said...

Sorry, I'm late. Busy, busy day. But all good! I was working on revisions.

The snow fell.

Her children shouted and jumped in glee. Of course they were excited. It meant swooping down the hill behind the house on sleds, rolling in the fluffy, cold powder, and warm mugs of hot chocolate when they returned red-nosed and exhausted.

To her it meant no connection with the world. No mail, no visits from neighbors, and an empty bed- again. Her husband wouldn't be able to get home for another week if the weather kept up.

By then it might be too late.

Paty Jager said...

Nice, Wavy! I like your characters. Very vivid.

Alice, I thought you were an animals lover?? LOL Hope you get to feeling better.

Fun blog, Karen!

Karen Duvall said...

Good job, Paty. I can feel those snow flakes now. 8^)

Elisabeth Naughton said...

The snow fell in big, chunky flakes to cover the forest in a sea of white. Kneeling near the edge of the frozen lake, with only the light of the waxing moon illuminating the ice, Karen the vampire queen wiped a hand across her mouth and drew in a deep breath. Thick droplets of crimson blood slid down her chin and splashed on the pristine snow at her feet. The body, already covered in ice crystals, lay motionless

Footsteps pounded to her right. She didn't turn to see who approached. Vandar was the only one who dared interrupt her when she fed. "The villagers are coming."

She pushed to her feet, licked a droplet of blood from her lip and smiled. "Let them come. I'm still hungry."

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Me things I am a bit twisted. ;)

Fun exercise, Karen. ;)

Karen Duvall said...

Eeew, Eli! 8^) You've been reading too much J.R. Ward. Very vivid writing. I'm expecting to see know outside my window any moment.

Karen Duvall said...

Because I don't feel like working right now and would much rather take a nap, I'm going to do another one.

The cat lay by the fire.

Fiona coiled her long tail around her body and snuggled her nose deep into her black, shiny fur. The hair on her back glistened in the firelight and took on reddish hues from the flames. Her delicate purring harmonized with the popping embers from among burning logs on the grate.

Lori Barber said...

Karen, thanks for the fun post and exercise. Hope I did this right. I always struggle with show don't tell.

Flames snapped and crackled against the backdrop of pristine snow and shot into the air taking a lick at heaven's feet. Random images of treasured memories engulfed Wanda in rapid fire then vanished into charred embers matching the remnants of their home.

Jinx stretched and slithered away from the base of the fire. Claws engaged, he struck Wanda's leg, black tail snapping back and forth.

Frank bent. The cat coiled in his arms, eyes fixed on Wanda and drenched in the color of evil.

Fresh snowflakes fell unseen.

Karen Duvall said...

Wow, Lori, you used all of them! That's great. I liked your little story, kind of like "flash fiction." 8^)

Paty Jager said...

Wow! Everyone has done an awesome job! We must all be writers! ;)

Alice Sharpe said...

Paty, that's just great. I get accused of being an animal hater (even though I made sure the cat was headed for the snow bank) and Eli stands around drinking human blood and nothing...

Paty Jager said...

Alice, I didn't want to say anything about Eli's because I think she was writing a biography... didn't she say Karen( our urban fantasy/parnormal author) had the blood dripping from her mouth.

Since I'm not an animal I figured you wouldn't come after me, but... Karen just lives down the road and she's still hungry!

Alice Sharpe said...

Paty, LOL. Survival of the fittest, baby.

Elisabeth Naughton said...