Friday, September 28, 2012

LOOK At That! A Writer's Challenge

Claire Gillian, author of The P.U.R.E. issued me & four others a ‘show don’t tell’ challenge!

Here it is: Count up the 'LOOK's in your current WIPs and choose your favorite three. Then post the paragraphs around the word.

What is ‘show don’t tell’? HERE is my take on it. Basically it means to portray things / emotions / responses with action verbs rather than tell the reader about them. Here's my favorite go-to example:

Sally was sad. (tell)
Sally's eyes filled with tears. (show)

But onto the challenge ...

I had 7 'Look's in my 60,000 word (of an estimated 80,000) in-process draft of Pool of Souls, the first of a 2 book fantasy series.

Here’s my 3 favorite paragraphs:

1.      “Thank the gods for that.” Hyla studied the human man before her. It was the first opportunity to look without seeing through her Talent. Thick wavy hair as dark as his eyes fell low across his brow. His gaze softened as he smiled at her. Curly lashes framed twinkling eyes—they were doubtless the envy of every woman he came into contact with.

2.      Crunching on a pear, Hyla studied Jadon as he bit into a cold meat pie. He didn’t look like someone manor-born with seemingly endless coins at his disposal. He’d traded his soldier uniform for the threads of a peasant. His tunic stretched across broad shoulders, his brown cloak and dark breeches blended with the shadows of the trees behind him.

3.      Hyla’s hands flew into the air once more, but she didn’t storm off in a fit of female furry as he thought she would.  A thoughtful look filled her eyes. She chewed on the inside of her lip.  “I’ll just have to trust their hearts will be changed.”

Honestly I believe 'LOOK' is perfectly fine in all 3 examples. How else would I write these paragraphs? Suggestions please??!?

Now I’m passing this challenge onto five other authors:

Summer Ross
Kirkus MacGowan
Mark Stone
Samantha Memi
Kim Flowers


  1. I will take this challenge and post it next Friday (I only post once a week usually) Thanks for tagging me.
    I think all three of your 'looks' do what they need and are just fine as they are.

  2. Muchos gracias seƱorita, just what I need when my house just burnt down, I'm caught in the middle of a divorce and my 13 year old daughter got pregnant and ran off with a terrorist. It will help take my mind off my problems. First there are two basic meanings to the word ‘look’. You can have either ‘appearance’ or ‘observe’.
    ‘I looked at him. He looked annoyed.’ Nothing wrong with the first sentence. You could change the second to, ‘Steam hissed from his ears, smoke from his reddened nostrils, his eyes popped out on springs and his tongue became a flame’. But I preferred the first version; it's simpler and it makes sense.
    But I'm not really the right person to ask I always tell stories and only use show if I'm doing something spoofy.
    I agree with Summer, there’s nothing wrong with the use of look in any of these paragraphs. The first is observe, so no tell there. The second is appearance, and could be seen as tell, but making it show would lose all its directness and simplicity. The thirds is interesting, it's the appearance within her eyes, so how would you show a thoughtful look, ‘Her iris widened and showed the inner workings of her brain,’ doesn’t have the same impact.
    Nothing to do with tell or show but the only thing I would take issue with would be ‘human man’. According to science all men are human, though I have to admit I have had boyfriends whose habits were closer to great apes.

    1. Um ... seriously??? Or are you just being your silly self???

      'Human man' is because Hyla, the MC, is NOT human. ;) As for the apes, I gotta agree.

      Thanks for the giggles. You always make me smile.

  3. MUCH more complex than the challenge I played with, which was to post the first time "look" shows up in your story

    1. It's a fun, enlightening experience. Thanks so much for stopping by & commenting Monica!

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  5. Ah, I didn't know she wasn't human. That explains why I couldn’t understand a lot of what was happening. Which just goes to prove you can enjoy stuff and not know what the hell is going on. I love your blog.

  6. Nice work, even with the word "look" in them. :-)

  7. Oh, crap, now we have another "bad" word to look out for? :-) I've just finished attempting to strike the word "that" from my vocabulary! haha. I think this is an interesting challenge, and one that I hadn't really thought of before in the show vs. tell battle. I have made my post, but I haven't assigned my new wave of victims yet. I'm still working on building my blog world, so if anyone wants to check it out, here it is: