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#13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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puregrace7
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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby puregrace7 » Wed May 18, 2011 9:32 pm

(Envision a nervous giggle here)

Telling:
She was so disappointed in herself. She learned, by reading online, that she had written her entire challenge entry in ‘telling’ mode, which was completely unacceptable. Although she was quite alone, she blushed at the thought that she could be so ignorant.

Showing:

Her eyes bugged out at the computer screen and her heart sunk as she read the writing tips under the topic of The Well-Crafted Short Story. “What an ignoramus!” she chided as she knocked herself in the head with the palm of her hand. “I told the whole story instead of showing it. And I already submitted it. Phooey! I wonder if I could rewrite the story, correctly, and submit it under the next topic?”

(Another nervous giggle)

Do you think there’s any hope?

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glorybee
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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby glorybee » Thu May 19, 2011 1:37 pm

No need to be nervous--we're all friends here.

Your two examples were great, and I'm sure that you're a quick study. You'll be just fine--glad to have you in this wondeful, faith-filled community of writers!

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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby Francie » Sat Dec 19, 2015 5:43 pm

Hi Jan,
I really struggle with show vs tell. It's always been one of my biggest challenges. So I really appreciate this lesson. Here's my attempt at showing vs telling.

Tell: Susan worried about paying the bills. They had just been paid for the month and already the money was gone. She wondered if she should get a job, and considered searching the want ads.

Show: Susan stared at the pile of bills on the desk in front of her and breathed a sigh of frustration. "We just got paid… where did it all go? " she whimpered. Her eyes wandered to the newspaper laying next to the pile. In big, bold letters printed on the page she read: Wanted: Freelance Writer.

Thanks Jan!

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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby glorybee » Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:17 pm

Well done, Francie!

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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby kafrak » Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:44 pm

I hope I am doing this right...
Telling:Jack was there early and talked with the Chaplain. He shared his story, admitted his mistakes, and expressed the desire to get back to God.

Jack felt an emptiness within him. Reach as he would for it, that feeling of incompleteness, aloneness would not be filled; not with drugs, booze, parties, or any of the other pleasures one can take from this world. When the announcement of mid-week services was made, Matt's soul leapt in excitement. A yearning overcame him and he realized what he had been seeking in all the wrong placed.

He went to the room early hoping to talk to the Chapain. They shook hands; "Good morning, I am Chaplain Long, you are new here, arently you?"

Matt answered, "Yeah, came in Friday night, Guess I will be here for a while. Chaplain Long, do you have a couple of minutes?"

Chaplain noted the redness around Matthews eyes and decided this was a perfect time. "Come in, Matt, what did you want to talk about?"

Matthew felt silly sitting there. "Why are you wasting this guys time. There are a million other bums like you, just get out of here." a part of his mind told him. He beat it back and started to tell his tale. Once he had finished he felt drained, exhausted. He had not realized how much he had done until he talked to the Chaplain. His list of "And thens" seemed to be never ending.

Chaplain was not upset or put off by Matthews litany of wrongs. He leaned forward, elbows on knees and looked into Matt's eyes. "You said when you were younger you asked Jesus into your heart and were baptized. Was that true?"
"Well, yeah, Chaplain, everything I have told you is true. But that baptism can't count now, after all the things I have done? Nah, they just don't go away that easy."
Chaplain countered, "But yes they can, Matt. You see when you asked Jesus into your heart He moved in to stay. You can't evict him, you can't throw him out. He is there, like it or not. If you will confess your sins to God and choose never to do them again, forgiveness and continued salvation are yours. Would you be willing to do that."

Matt could feel he heart and soul reaching desperately for God. He knew what he had to do and as he determined to rededicate himself a sense of joy burst forth within him that almost knocked him to the floor. Matt and Chaplain Long got on their knees and Matthew rededicated himself to God. He was filled with the hole spirit and now knew he had all the tools he needed to resist the temptations that would come. His heart soared in that joy and freedom and that joy extended to his face, he could not stop grinning. His surrounds meant little, he discovered, it was the condition of his soul that determined his joy, his craving.

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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:03 pm

Kafrak, I really appreciate your doing these lessons so faithfully. I'm sorry that I won't have time to read and critique this whole story--I'm working a few part-time jobs right now and my time is stretched pretty thin.

If you could maybe try again, with the original instructions of the homework:

HOMEWORK: Let’s concentrate on item F—show, don’t tell. Write two little snippets, just as I did above—one that tells, and one that shows. Please keep them to about that same length.

And here are the snippets I was referring to:

Telling: Susan was angry at Tim for spending money on gambling when they needed it to pay bills. She was frustrated that money that should have been going for diapers and baby food was being spent on poker and blackjack.

Showing: Susan looked up from the pile of bills; Tim was at the door, the smell of the casino clinging to his jacket. She shifted the baby in her lap and swallowed the rock that had been lodged in her throat for hours. “There’s only one more diaper, Tim. I’ve been saving this one for you."

If you want the longer homework piece that you did to be critiqued, maybe you could put it in the Critique Circle, with a note that you were working on showing/telling. Sorry that I just don't have time for this (I'll have more time in April, when one of my jobs comes to a close).

If you post some shorter snippets here, I"ll be happy to take a look at them. Again, my apologies!

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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby kafrak » Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:12 pm

I appreciate it, Jan. I understand where you are coming from. I struggle with this concept and know I need to improve tremendously in this area. I am worried my book is poorly crafted. I got carried away with the assignment and apologize.

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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby hwnj » Fri Mar 18, 2016 1:30 pm

In terms of your list of some elements, I love surprises, but tend to resent those that are contrived instead of crafted. In other words, If I can go back and see the subtle trail of clues I missed, that is fine, but if the author is plainly going out of their way to be deceptive, that turns me off.

Another thing I see a bit of in the challenge is retelling of Bible stories, with no particular angle to differentiate it from the original text.

Homework:
Telling...
I want to die. Being paralyzed makes me feel worthless. No girl will ever give e a second look.
Showing...
Who cares if the procedure will make it easier to put my useless, diapered shell in a wheelchair? My sisters certainly won't be bringing their friends around to flirt with me anymore!
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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby glorybee » Fri Mar 18, 2016 4:19 pm

hwnj wrote:In terms of your list of some elements, I love surprises, but tend to resent those that are contrived instead of crafted. In other words, If I can go back and see the subtle trail of clues I missed, that is fine, but if the author is plainly going out of their way to be deceptive, that turns me off.


Agreed!

hwnj wrote:Another thing I see a bit of in the challenge is retelling of Bible stories, with no particular angle to differentiate it from the original text.


Also agreed!

hwnj wrote:Homework:
Telling...
I want to die. Being paralyzed makes me feel worthless. No girl will ever give e a second look.
Showing...
Who cares if the procedure will make it easier to put my useless, diapered shell in a wheelchair? My sisters certainly won't be bringing their friends around to flirt with me anymore!


Excellent. A beautiful example of how much more powerful 'showing' can be than 'telling.'

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#13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby lookinup » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:58 pm

Foreshadowing - prediction
Irony – quirk of fate
Surprise - blow
Suspense - tension
Symbolism - imagery

Well, I've been reading some of this thread. Here goes:

Telling:

Dan’s grim prediction felt like a quirk of fate, levying a further blow to Susan’s self-esteem. The tension building in her exploded at the visual imagery of what Steven might be doing even at this moment.

Showing:

“My best guess is that Steven’s with you-know-who even now,” said Dan, his callous words hitting Susan like a blow. Was it a quirk of fate that she’d been the one who introduced Sherry and Steven? “I’ve felt the electricity, a growing tension that almost crackles, between them for some time.”

“I could care less!” snapped Susan, and turning around, she ended the awkward conversation by leaving the room.

Does this do it?
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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby glorybee » Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:16 pm

lookinup wrote:Telling:

Dan’s grim prediction felt like a quirk of fate, levying a further blow to Susan’s self-esteem. The tension building in her exploded at the visual imagery of what Steven might be doing even at this moment.

Showing:

“My best guess is that Steven’s with you-know-who even now,” said Dan, his callous words hitting Susan like a blow. Was it a quirk of fate that she’d been the one who introduced Sherry and Steven? “I’ve felt the electricity, a growing tension that almost crackles, between them for some time.”

“I could care less!” snapped Susan, and turning around, she ended the awkward conversation by leaving the room.

Does this do it?


Yes, well done on the "showing vs. telling" bit.

You tapped into one of my pet peeves, and that's the expression "I could care less." Since this is such a small snippet, it's impossible to know whether this is typical of Susan's speech or not, but if it is, someone should tell her that the correct expression is "I couldn't care less."

Think about it. If she could care LESS, that means she CARES, at least a little bit. But if she COULDN'T care less, that means she cares absolutely zero. There's nothing less than zero.

I think people believe that "could care less" is correct English, because of our prohibition against double negatives. They see that 'couldn't' is negative (because it has 'not' in it), and 'less' seems also to be negative. But it's not, and 'couldn't care less' is not only correct English, but it's the only way to say it that makes sense.

Well, that was me up on my soapbox, and probably not what you came here for. You did a fine job on the homework, and I'm encouraged that you're participating so fully in these lessons!

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Re: #13--The Well-Crafted Short Story

Postby lookinup » Fri Mar 25, 2016 7:27 pm

I as a FW writer am expanding my awareness and appreciation for what is offered on this site. It's remarkable. At any rate, that double-negative evaded me. I feel both irked and amused when those get past me; they are so obvious yet so obscure.
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near-misses

Postby lookinup » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:20 pm

glorybee wrote:
pheeweed wrote:Under the topic of sentence structure: I tend to start my sentences with a clause. I guess it's the way I think. So I write what comes naturally to me, but then I go back and change the sentence structure to start with the action.

For example:
Trying to find an idea for the challenge always makes me want to eat chocolate.

Corrected: I always want to eat chocolate when I'm thinking of ideas for the challenge.

Phee


Phee, can you talk more about this? Not about the chocolate--I totally understand that! But I'm not sure what you mean by 'starting with a clause'--and both of your sentences have action at the beginning.

If you were talking about starting with -ing verbs, I'm totally on board with you there. It's not stricty ungrammatical (although it can lead to problems--see below), but it's often overused by beginning writers.

A common problem with -ing verbs--sentences like this one:

Pounding furiously on the door, my eyes lit upon a woman in a torn leather jacket.

That sentence reads as if my eyes were pounding furiously on the door.

Your example didn't fall into this trap, though...and now I'm off to find some chocolate!


As a budding writer, this is such a trap for me. I like to think I'm past this particular weakness, but would like to try changing a bad example into maybe a good one.

"While passing my bookshelves in the hallway, a box of chocolates grabbed my attention on the shelf."

Sounds like my attention is sitting on the shelf. So I'll try again.

"From its perch high on a bookshelf, the red box of chocolates caught my attention as I walked down the hallway toward the living room."

How's this?

Also, this box of chocolate from Christmas didn't make its recipient - it needs badly to go away so neither my husband nor I dip into its decadent contents.
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Re: near-misses

Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:07 pm

lookinup wrote:
As a budding writer, this is such a trap for me. I like to think I'm past this particular weakness, but would like to try changing a bad example into maybe a good one.

"While passing my bookshelves in the hallway, a box of chocolates grabbed my attention on the shelf."

Sounds like my attention is sitting on the shelf. So I'll try again.

"From its perch high on a bookshelf, the red box of chocolates caught my attention as I walked down the hallway toward the living room."

How's this?

Also, this box of chocolate from Christmas didn't make its recipient - it needs badly to go away so neither my husband nor I dip into its decadent contents.


In fact, Catherine, your example had two examples of misplaced modifiers. You found one (your attention 'on the shelf'), but the other one is far more common. Your introductory phrase ('While passing my bookshelves in the highway') doesn't have a subject, so the next noun after the comma is assumed to be the subject. In this case, that noun is 'a box of chocolates,' so it reads as if the box of chocolates was passing the bookshelves.

Your final, corrected version is just fine, grammatically. For your consideration:

From its perch high on a bookshelf, a box of chocolates caught my attention.

It's purely personal preference, but it's a good practice to snip, snip, snip.

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