By Kim McMahill
Who hasn’t heard the phrase, “show, don’t tell,” in conjunction with writing instruction and advice? It may be basic guidance, but it is the most critical component of crafting a compelling story. Despite sounding like a simple concept, the skill is more difficult to master than one might think, requiring conscious effort and years of practice.
If an author is successful in showing, often the feeling comes through, but to ensure nothing is missed I always go back and evaluate how select scenes might make the reader feel. Not only do I show the fall, but does the reader feel the pain the character experienced?
Feeling includes both emotional and physical sensations. We all want readers to connect to our stories in some deep and meaningful way, to share in our hero’s sorrow or joy and to find that relatable moment in their own lives, which arouses an emotional response.
On a physical level, does the reader's heartbeat actually increase as they become completely engrossed in the hero’s life or death struggle? Does the scene suck them in so thoroughly that they might forget to take a breath, or do they wince in pain as the hero’s shoulder is pierced by a bullet? Does the reader sag with exhaustion as the scene evokes memories of extreme fatigue, or do they wrinkle their nose at a pungent odor? Sitting alone in a room absorbed in the hero’s triumph, does the reader smile without realizing it?
Physical reader responses may be challenging to generate, but I always try. I especially enjoy working with the effects of temperature extremes. If I make a reader shiver, grab for a blanket, or feel the need to shed a sweater, then I’ve done my job well.
In Marked In Mexico, I hoped to make the reader subconsciously scratch at non-existent bug bites, and suddenly crave a tall glass of iced tea and a cool shower. My latest novel, A Dose Of Danger, is set during a particularly rough winter in northern Wyoming. Anyone who lives in areas prone to harsh winters and heavy snowfall will relate to how much more difficult every task becomes when battling Mother Nature. Those who reside in more temperate areas will be thankful for where they live. Busting tracks through the drifts,
breaking ice out of water troughs, and chaining up during a storm after hours of driving on slick unplowed roads while fearing for your life will hopefully get the reader craving a tropical getaway.
One of the most important rules of writing will continue to focus on showing, rather than telling, when crafting a story. In conjunction with this tenet, try to make your readers feel, not just emotionally, but physically. Don’t be afraid to make them sweat.
A Dose Of Danger will be release May 29, 2015, and is currently available on Amazon for pre-order at http://www.amazon.com/Dose-Danger-Kim-McMahill-ebook/dp/B00V50EEBA/
Blurb: When researcher, Grace Talbot, and her team discover a possible solution for weight loss, they become targets of a group dedicated to controlling the multi-billion dollar a year diet-product industry. Her unsanctioned testing methods bring tragedy to the family ranch, and the attention of the local sheriff’s deputy. With her colleagues either dead, missing, or on the run, she soon realizes she must trust the deputy with her life, but can she trust him with her heart?
BIO: Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming, which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. Since leaving Wyoming she has enjoyed many opportunities to see the world, and has lived amid some of America’s most stunning landscapes. Kim started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happy endings soon drew her into a world of adventure and romantic suspense. Learn more at http://KimMcMahill.com, or follow Kim at http://KimMcMahill.blogspot.com or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kimmcmahill