I'm in editing mode at the moment so I'm a little introspective. I'm also a little wild-eyed because the story I'm working on is a year old. Remember when I said look at older works? I do practice what I preach.
So in the past 365 days I've learned how to show instead of tell. I'm still not perfect at this, but as I said, I've gotten better. I would like to think my stories are more tangible now that I try to breathe more life into the passages.
She smiled again, more from the warm feeling the alcohol gave her than because of his appearance—at least that’s what she told herself.
She smiled again, more from the warmth flooding through her body, filled at the moment with alcohol, than his appearance—at least that’s what she told herself.
I'm not going to win a Pulitzer Prize for this sentence, and though the change is subtle it has a better impact. I'm describing exactly how the alcohol is skewing her perspective. When I read the original I noted I'd used the word "feel" a dead ringer for when you are telling instead of showing. I should mention I went over this story at least three times last year. I never saw this sentence as a problem. Funny, even now I'm looking at it to see if I can re-word for clarity.
Here's another example.
Original Paragraphs (sentences really):
She got up and made her way to Janice’s office. Janice was shuffling some papers when Hazel entered.
Hazel stepped out of her office to find the hub of the company in it's usual state of chaos. The room curved in a semi-circle and the view from the second floor always made her dizzy, not from the height, but of the constant movement below.
The people who made this company work didn't get a moments rest. Phones were always ringing, someone was usually running in or out, and the big boss could step out of her office at any moment to watch. The tension in her neck spread down to her shoulders. She closed her eyes a moment to calm down, but couldn't, not with the constant noise.
She gave up and turned into Janice's office. Her boss was shuffling some papers on her desk when Hazel entered.
Now these passages involve more than describing to the reader where she works. Since I'm fond of lists...
1. The obvious, I'm showing the reader where she works. Instead of an disembodied trek to the Janice's office.
2. It's a busy place and not what someone would call a peaceful place to work.
3. For some reason just standing there puts tension in the heroine's neck.
4. Word choice is an amazing thing. You can create a certain feeling with just the words you use to describe something. "constant movement below" vs. "busy"; "a moment's rest" vs. "full work schedule"; and the one I wanted to convey the most since the heroine is about to go into Janice's office "big boss" vs "the boss, nice boss, Janice."
Going through this book has helped me reevaluate my editing process. I've been looking for any spots in this ms to see when I've missed an opportunity to make it better.
So, the moral of this posts: Watch out for missed opportunities for description, character develop, awkward sentences and telling cues *the five sense: see, feel, hear, touch, smell*. The most important moral is to never stop learning how to write better. If this old dog can learn new tricks and have them stick, then there is hope for everyone. (Trust me, I'm a sssslllllooooowwwww learner.)