DL Fowler's Blog

Show Me

Posted in Lincoln's Diary, My Books, Show Don't Tell, Writing by DLFowler on January 6, 2011

There’s an art to writing. But it’s an art that requires discipline, even hyper-vigilance. Especially when it comes to executing the powerful technique of showing rather than telling.  

I was reminded of this again last night when I came across a Twitter post that led me to a literary agent’s blog post.  The subject was showing, not telling, in a query letter. Hey, I thought those were supposed to be business letters.  Anyway, here’s an example of before and after. Before is telling, after is showing.  Can you see the difference?

Before:

Like most people, Sarah Sue Morgan wants the truth, but when the truth includes an unpublished Lincoln diary that may prove the sixteenth President arranged his own assassination, the truth could kill.

While unraveling her own family’s well kept secrets, Sarah learns about a private Lincoln diary her mysterious grandfather received as gift. And when she goes to confront a professor who she believes conned her mother out of the family heirloom, she’s accused of his murder.

On the run from police and a powerful conspiracy that’s determined to destroy anything or anyone connected to the diary, Sarah turns to the only person she trusts  – herself – to find the diary and expose the real killer. But when she’s forced to accept help from strangers, she learns whom she can trust and who will betray her.

After:

Like most people, Sarah Sue Morgan’s hackles go up when she’s held back from the truth. But when the truth includes an unpublished diary that could prove Abraham Lincoln arranged his own assassination, the truth could kill. 

 While digging into her own family’s well kept secrets, Sarah learns her mysterious grandfather once cherished a private Lincoln diary he’d received as gift. And when she goes to confront a professor who she believes conned her mother out of the family heirloom, she’s accused of his murder.

On the run from police and a powerful conspiracy that’s determined to destroy anything or anyone connected to the diary, Sarah turns to the only person she trusts  – herself – to find the diary and expose the real killer. But after she stares death in the face and reaches out to strangers for help, betrayal is right around the corner.

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2 Responses

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  1. Michelle Brown said, on January 6, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    The differences are subtle to the eye, but the effect is
    very powerful. Great post!

    Like


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