A Mistake I Almost Made

I had a problem. I needed to wrap up the Novella I was writing this week—and I had only five hundred more words at my disposal.

I knew I couldn’t include much dialog or description. I had to keep to the basics and weave everything into a satisfying ending for my readers. 

An hour later, I felt pretty smug at having pulled it off with a four hundred ninety-nine word count.

Until I read it back to myself.

And there it was. I noticed it right away.

The big “T.”

Telling.

Even though everything I wanted to say was included, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as it could have been. I felt like a newscaster, not an author.

Show—Don’t Tell is a beautiful thing. The reader can see, touch, hear, and see a story. 

As good as a movie. Often better.

A rewrite was in order and I found a creative way to use my five hundred words and “show” readers a great ending.

My “almost mistake” taught me a valuable lesson, so I’m simply passing it on to you.

Guiltless Writing

I remember when I started writing, I was surprised to learn there were so many rules I needed to learn—and follow. 

Show, don’t tell.

Do not use adverbs in your writing.

Don’t use cliches. 

Write a certain number of words per day to be successful.

And on and on.

But, I was also told something else: After you learn to follow the rules effectively and become successful, you may pretty much throw the rules away and write however you please. 

The truth is, I think when we find ourselves “eligible” to abandon the rules, we will want to keep them because they make our writing better.

But like I told my critique group yesterday, I will rejoice when the rule about using minimal adverbs in writing is no longer required. 

I can’t help it. I love those -ly words…

Lovely, slowly, carefully, brilliantly, passionately, and so on.

Oh, how I long to use them in my writing without feeling guilty!