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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Book Review: Showing and Telling in Fiction

I finished reading Showing and Telling in Fiction by by Marcy Kennedy a few months ago, and have been meaning to review this excellent how-to guide since I put it down. Eliminating 'telling' is an issue I needed a lot of help with to fully understand and overcome in my own writing, and this book has helped set me in the right direction. In a nutshell, the classic argument states that writing that shows the reader what is happening is more compelling, engaging, and descriptive than writing that tells the reader what is happening (or has already happened).

"Chapter One defines showing and telling and explains why showing is normally better."

Showing and Telling in Fiction begins by clearly explaining what defines showing and telling, the differences between them, and why showing is (usually) the preferred choice for exciting, engaging prose. If you like to know the reason behind the rule, you'll find this part satisfying.

"Chapter Two gives you eight practical ways to find telling that needs to be changed to showing and guides you in understanding how to make those changes."

Understanding the differences between showing and telling is just the first step in addressing the problem. Chapter Two provides practical techniques to easily spot weak writing in your own manuscript. By identifying the 'red flags' of telling, the book teaches you to recognize the signs in your manuscript.

"Chapter Three explains how telling can function as a useful first draft tool."

Kennedy states that using telling to write your first draft may help you capture your story, which can then be edited in the ensuing drafts to turn telling sections into showing. If you're struggling to write your draft by 'showing' everything, using 'telling' to get the words out of your head may be a useful technique. Although I understood the point of this chapter, I'm personally not going to intentionally experiment with the technique, as I've had so much trouble with this issue, I'm trying to avoid writing 'telling' prose whenever I can.

"Chapter Four goes in-depth on the seven situations when telling might be the better choice than showing."

Obviously, writing that is 100% showing is not the goal of this book. In certain situations, telling can be more effective and appropriate than showing. This chapter shows you opportunities for using telling effectively to make your story flow cohesively.

"Chapter Five provides you with practical editing tips to help you take what you've learned to the pages of your current novel or short story." 

An apt finish to Showing and Telling in Fiction provides you methods to attack your manuscript efficiently, and offers a link to print versions of the revision checklists.

In summary, this concise (88 pages) instructional tome is full of examples and techniques, light on fluff and filler, and currently has a 4.8 star rating on Amazon (48 reviews). I'd definitely recommend this book if you struggle with any part of the showing versus telling battle.

If you found this review helpful, links to some other writing guides I've reviewed are listed below:

Monday, June 8, 2015

A KDP Select Giveaway Promotion Suprise

Due to the fact that my 90-day KDP Select period was expiring soon, and my day job exploded with excess demands on my time, I ran a KDP Select giveaway for my epic fantasy adventure Mirrors & Mist on June 2, 2015. Because I was so swamped at work, I didn't do any promotion for this event. Zero. Zip. Nada.

If you recall, I posted results from my first Amazon giveaway for Mirrors & Mist on May 14 and 15, where I promoted the event on my blog, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and two dozen websites. My first-day results for my promoted event were 129 units on Amazon. So how did the un-promoted giveaway do? On June 2, the no-fanfare giveaway totaled 130 books, or one more than the giveaway I spent several hours (possibly more) promoting.

So does this mean I wasted my time filling out all those online forms and posting and tweeting like crazy? I'm afraid it might. Other than the day of the week the event was held (Thursday versus Tuesday), all other factors are the same as far as I can tell. I have heard that Tuesday is the best day to hold your KDP giveaway, but I haven't actually seen any data that backs this up. Certainly my second giveaway could be interpreted to support Tuesday as being a good day to give away books.

I also ran a second un-promoted giveaway on Sunday, June 7 (since my 90 days expires June 11). This 'under the radar' giveaway totaled a whopping 18 e-books--a big drop-off from 130. Was this event too close to the last one (only 5 days apart)? Or maybe Sunday is a bad day for giveaways? Or a combination of both, plus other factors? I don't know. I've got one more free day left this period, so I'm using it on Thursday, June 11, which is the last day of this 90-day period. I'll let you know how it goes.

The market is dynamic, and what works today may flop tomorrow, but this is one little peek into how the Amazon KDP Select market performed for book two of an indie epic fantasy trilogy. And all of this evaluation hinges on the assumption that giving away books for free is a successful technique to increase sales.

My plan for my next 90-day KDP Select period is to use a paid promotion and compare the results. Do you have an experience with KDP Select you'd be willing to share? I'm interested in what others are encountering with their promotional efforts.

This is a screenshot of my KDP Select report for the two giveaways

Author Update: Progress on Warlock & Wyrm, Book III of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy sits at 15,810 words, which is only about 8,000 words in the last month. Considering the last two weeks have been insanely hectic, I hope to crush these numbers by the next update.

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