“I was told that I didn’t know what I was doing. They were right. I cried, and those harsh words made me dig deeper to become the writer and businesswoman that I am today. Take lemons and make your own version of lemonade. Make it flavorful.” Paula Perry

EMBELLISHMENT:  The best advice for developing support and elaboration in narrative writing is “Show, don’t tell.” Good writers help their readers imagine the story by describing the action, providing sensory descriptions, and explaining characters’ thoughts and feelings. Poets are especially adept at using precise details to focus on specific, concrete, observable things or experiences. Some ways that writers use “show, don’t tell” can be best explained in examples of the following.

Description of action:  Some writers often have difficulty elaborating on the action in their narratives. Many writers rush through the action in a story, condensing it into a few short sentences. Just as slow-motion replay helps television viewers understand the action in a sporting event, good writers can slow down a moment, breaking down an event into a moment-by-moment replay of the action. Learn to use slow-motion replays to slow down a moment and to use action chains to elaborate on the actions in a sentence.

Description of physical states:  Good writers use sensory details to provide their readers with concrete images that help them construct a picture of what is happening in the story. Good writers use sensory details to show readers what things in their story look like, sound like, smell like, taste like, and feel like. Descriptions and comparisons can also help readers construct a picture by comparing the object being described to something they know. Learn to construct images with words by identifying the images in poetry and using guided imagination to construct their own word pictures.

Descriptions of internal states: would you rather watch the movie than read the book? Books have an advantage over movies because they let the reader inside the characters’ thoughts and feelings. Beginning writers, though, often neglect to include either their own or their character’s thoughts and feelings when they write. Get inside the minds of the characters and reveal their inner thoughts and feelings. Take different perspectives by studying your characters and creating the mindset of people from different times, places, cultures, and backgrounds. Good writers also use dialogue to reveal a character’s personality, internal thoughts, and feelings and to provide background information about the story.






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