One of my biggest writing insecurities is breaking rules. When I started my novels, I went at it all willy-nilly, unaware of rules aside from basic grammar. When I got more serious about the craft, one of the first rules I learned was Show, Don’t Tell. What an awesome new concept! And wow, what it did for my writing!
Eventually I learned that once I knew the rules—why they were there and how they worked—I was allowed to break the rules, with discretion. Okay, I have to admit that scared me a bit. (No need to go into a deep psychological profile here, but even though I don’t particularly like rules, I do find comfort in their safety. If I don’t break rules, bad things won’t smack me upside the head, right?) So, the question is, How do I to know when it’s okay to break a rule?
I don’t know.
But it began to occur to me that there had to be a better way to SHOW fear, or embarrassment, or lust, or anger or that whole gamut of human emotions. I mean, how many different ways can the heart beat fast and hard and the body temperature rise? Is it just a matter of seeing how many clever and convoluted ways I can show an emotion through physicality? And that doesn’t even cover all the extra verbiage needed with showing. Sometimes it’s good to slow down the narrative, but sometimes all that extra speeding pulse, slamming objects and watering eyes bogs down the pace and makes even my eyes roll.
This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Group, sponsored by Alex J. Cavanaugh.