Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Show, Don’t Tell: Downton Abbey Mistake

February 13th, 2015 • by Karen A. Chase • No Comments
Highclere Castle, the home used for the set of Downton Abbey. –Wikimedia Commons photo by Bas Sijpkes.

Highclere Castle, the home used for the set of Downton Abbey. –Wikimedia Commons photo by Bas Sijpkes.

Last Sunday, Downton Abbey writers failed to achieve show, don’t tell. (Spoiler alert.)

In fiction, great writing uses this device. A simple example is instead of,  “She was angry,” we should write, “Her fists clenched.”

We feel the emotion as each character acts and reacts in ways true to their nature. This applies to writing and even to Downton Abbey.

This week, Edith–the meek sister–got terrible news. She’d been waiting for a year to hear something, anything, about her lost lover. And so had we. But when the news came to Downton, viewers were denied the scene. Instead, her father later told his wife and us what happened.

We did not see Edith wither when it was confirmed he died. Worse, we did not see her sit forward, her face brightening, when she is told she inherits his publishing business. Edith was given what many women were denied for years, and what the family assumed she never had. Power.

Consequently, the writers denied Edith’s power to persuade us, too. So when we next see Edith using her newfound strength, it feels unbelievable. False. Had we seen it, we would have been right there with her.

For further examples of show, don’t tell, check out this great description at Grammar Girl’s Down and Dirty Tips.

Sponsored Writing

January 30th, 2015 • by Karen A. Chase • No Comments
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons. Another contributor to my writing...

Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons. Another contributor to my writing…

I recently read this article about Ann Bauer’s writing life being sponsored by her husband. It proves my point that while writing is a solitary job, being an author is not.

True, my Ted helps to pay the bills–just as I worked to support him as he started a new practice a few years ago. But the money for groceries or electricity doesn’t fuel me nearly as much as his arms do. He’s not alone either.

If it were not for Leslie and Susie and others feeding me paying copy jobs, I could not have paid the editor who fixed what I could not see. If it were not for those clients who changed schedules so I could attend writing conferences, I would not now be presenting at them. My parents, historians, and my friends gave time as first readers. The baker on the corner occasionally gives me free coffee… An author thankfully introduced me to her (and now my) agent…

To my count, roughly 250 people have contributed in some way over these last six years. Financially, physically, intellectually and/or emotionally.

The better lesson from Ann Bauer’s article is to be gracious. Have some humility. Appreciate your talent, but appreciate those around you who give you time to exercise it.

Then honor them by putting your head down to write. Write well. And finish the book. I’m off to do just that.…


Reading Slowly in 2015

January 9th, 2015 • by Karen A. Chase • 4 Comments


Hello again. It’s been a while since I’ve been in here, as I’ve been revising my manuscript. While I’ll still be wearing my editing coat, I’ve missed all you. So, my readers, I’m weaving back in.

This week, let’s stitch together all three of my blog’s topics–reading, writing and research. Like many of you, I have a pile of books I want to read.

My first instinct is to cut to it and rip through them. You’ve done it, too, I bet. Our society is now used to tweets and blog posts. Short. Fast. Sometimes we bolt through a book and proudly declare to our friends, “It was so good I read it in one day.”

Yes, but what did you miss?

I recently began a book called Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. (Yes, that’s her real name.) She discusses the importance of reading carefully. Thoughtfully. Close.

Given how much care writers give to finding the right word, wouldn’t it be nice to take equal time to read them? (Note my use of give and take.) If done well, this selectiveness adds texture. Layers. Warmth. If you read back in this blog post for instance, you’ll find I chose many words relating to fabric. That’s intentional. Books are woven together like a fine cloth.

If you’re reading too quickly, you might be missing a subtly that will provide a more enjoyable, more meaningful read. As this article on slow reading in the Washington Post states, “it’s about pleasure more than efficiency.” I think I’ll try that on this year.

On my reading list this year (delightfully) are friends whose books deserve attention:

Mary Chris Escobar’s How to Be Alive
Jon Sealy’s The Whiskey Barron
Beth Macy’s Factory Man
Ann Westrick’s Brotherhood

What are you reading?

Sign up for my blog on the right, and watch for changes and more author news soon. Happy New Year.