Friday, July 13, 2018

Show Don't Tell Descriptions - Part 1

by Elva Cobb Martin

As authors we have to keep sharpening our show don't tell skills. When I read, I take notes on examples of good descriptions that show us rather than tell us. This helps us master the technique. 

See if the sentences/phrases below help inspire you. They are my descriptive notes from a novel of a New York Times bestselling mystery author. This is one of the reasons she's enjoyed by so many readers! Can you SEE what she is describing?

The air was hot and heavy, as if it had already been breathed, and tasted faintly stale. (at a grave yard during funeral)

She looked tired and rumpled.

His voice lifted as he warmed to the subject.

He loved inflicting pain, that she knew as surely as any animal knows its predator by sight and smell.

She forced a smile and feared it might be more like bared teeth.

A look of venom hardened her face before she mastered it and ironed it out.

Charlotte knew exactly when the woman caught sight of Jacob. Her face changed. The full lower lip came forward, and the skin tightened across her cheeks.

Her voice, when it came, was as brittle as splintered glass.

Do these examples inspire you? With slight changes we may be able to use these great examples of show/don't tell descriptions.
And also come up with new ones.

Here are some descriptions of mine:

From Summer of Deception after the hero Luke Barrett has come back to God and had his faith restored. This is how I described what he felt later.

"As Luke walked across the lawn, the grass appeared greener, the flowers of the garden path more brilliant. A harmony filled his inner being, and he started to whistle."

Here's part of a scene from In a Pirate's Debt as the hero, Captain Bloodstone, (ancestor of Luke Barrett above) wrestles with the enemy in his dungeon cell on the eve of his proposed execution.

"Fury singed his mind and body. If he could just get his hands around Roger Poole's neck. That murderous thought brought others and Lucas fell into a hellish, demonic wrestling that lasted hours...Finally, exhausted and weary with the visions and the damp darkness about him, Lucas fell to his knees and cried out to God for deliverance from his anger and his unforgiveness. The response came swiftly, peacefully, like a gentle hand on his head. He looked up and saw a thin ray of sunlight filter down from the small barred window announcing morning."

Thanks for stopping by. Can you give me some good descriptive phrases or sentences that inspire you to add to my file?  Please click on the small links below to share this blog.

Be blessed today is my prayer for you,

Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels published with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. She has indie published a Bible study on Amazon, Power Over Satan, on the  believer's authority in Christ. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site,on Twitter; Facebook;  and Pinterest

 Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: