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This Week December 15th
Category: Site News

This Week on Writers Abroad



At the moment, the majority of votes cast on the subject of whether we do another anthology next year are in favour, so it looks as though it will go ahead — more work for Jo. The next decisions will be on the theme; 2015 is the International Year of Light (in all its connotations) and that seems to be striking a chord with a lot of us. Then, the vexed question of whether it is just fiction and poetry or will there be non-fiction too? If you haven’t voted, there’s still time to pop along to Forums and do so.


The deadline for our next magazine is looming, so if you’re down for a contribution now’s the time to finish it before the festivities.


This week, Vesna has written a useful and helpful blog entitled ‘The Show Must Go On” and has unlocked the key to good writing. Have a look and see if you agree.


On the Bragging Stool, Dianne reports she has accomplished her 2014 writing goals, with two books in print — a great achievement. Well done. For 2015, we would all do well to follow Paola’s SMART plan and give ourselves Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound goals. It’s got to be worth a try!


There’s a Formal Chat on Sunday, so hope to see some of you there. In the meantime, have a productive writing week.


Rilla's Monday Muses are all about Christmas - there has to be something for everyone there.

The Show Must Go On

The skeleton key to many literary problems, Show Not Tell, is an issue that fascinates me endlessly.


 Like all rules, Show Not Tell does not always apply. There are countless novels that spend agonizing chapters dragging the reader through endless ‘show’ when they should have substituted it with ‘he was a dentist’ – or whatever the message was.


Yet it’s one of the most fundamental differences that set aside the good writers from the amateurish. It’s obvious in the earlier stages. When you start substituting ‘he put his handkerchief over his nose as the body bag opened’ for ‘the smell from the corpse was terrible’ you know you’re on the right track.


But there’s more to Show Not Tell. There’s the backstage work, embedded in the very language. Unsurprisingly, word choice represents a huge chunk of these stage mechanics. Defining meaning precisely will control reader response more accurately. Using the correct vocabulary is without question part of Showing.


Then there’s metaphor. This is where you can put wheels on almost anything and give it a V8 engine – and people will barely notice anything happened. They’ll feel. It is stunning how much of our language is made up of metaphors, even on a workaday basis. They are a high glycaemic index portion of our lexical intake, and our brains seem to thrive on them. It gives an instant boost. Overindulgence leads to cliché and absurdity.


I recently read an article which claimed that readers responded with far more conceptualised interpretations of a metaphorical action (for example, stretch for understanding, chew on a thought) than for non-metaphorical statements (stretch for a glass, chew on gum). 79% to 31%, precisely.


Now this may seem like the blindingly obvious: after all, a metaphor is almost by definition a concept so one must surely buy into whatever that concept is to either understand or explain it. A sea of troubles, a broken heart, time is money.


However, though metaphor is theoretically a concept, it is also real: because ideas are concrete objects when metaphorised.  Most importantly, metaphor constrains the direction a reader forms their response into a very specific direction. So it turns the abstract, almost intangible, into a living, concrete form. A fence to surround and guide the reader mindscape.


Constraining reader response is mighty useful to a writer. Doing it in an unobtrusive manner – now that’s the real Show Not Tell. Maybe there’s another level but I haven’t been clever enough to figure one out yet. Any suggestions?

Festive Writing
Category: Writing
Tags: writing holidays


Stephen King says the following in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, “I used to tell interviewers I wrote every day except for Christmas, the fourth of July, and my birthday. That was a lie. […] The truth is that when I’m writing, I write every day. […] That includes Christmas, the Fourth, and my birthday” (page 175).

So what will you be doing once the Christmas tree is up and the presents are wrapped? Will you be sneaking out of bed just as Santa leaves to pen 2,000 words before everyone else gets up? Or will you be staying up late, typing away long after everyone else has gone to bed?

I find it hard to write in the holidays. There are usually more people around and it’s sometimes hard enough to carve out a little time for yourself for things you need to do (last minute present shopping or buying a new outfit for the Christmas Party), let alone something that isn’t necessary. Or is it? Stephen King continues to say that he has periods in which he doesn’t write, but that he actually finds this harder. How does not writing make you feel? Do you miss it, or does a break sometimes give you the oomph you need to write better next time?

Whether you’re writing, or not, over the next few weeks I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2015 (full of writing success)!  

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Monday, December 15, 2014
This Week December 15th
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The Show Must Go On
Posted by Vesna

The skeleton key to many literary problems, Show Not Tell, is an issue that fascinates me endlessly.


 Like all rules, Show Not...Read More

Festive Writing
Posted by Laura Besley


Stephen King says the following in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft , “I used to tell interviewers I...Read More

Reading Revelations
Posted by Jany

The saying goes that you are what you eat. May I adapt that? Some people reveal  what they are, or would like to be, through...Read More

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