The first advice you get when you try to write a story is "show, don't tell."
You have a plot, you think that your characters have a very interesting path to go, and you're ready to follow them on it, step by step.
You already have your good reasons to write and read your story and probably your best friend will read it too - if (s)he's a very kind friend, but if you want to involve other readers, you must provide them their good reasons to spend their time reading your stuff.
Keep in mind that readers don't like to be schooled: e.g., if you say that a character is a jerk, you are telling your readers how they are supposed to feel; you are giving them your opinions. Instead, if you show your character acting in a jerkish way, your readers will decide on their own how they judge your character's behavior.

Let's see it through an example:

Here's the summary:

"Edward's the star keeper for the Forks High School soccer team, and is already being scouted by leagues overseas. Bella's just moved from Phoenix and interferes with his…focus."

It's updated at least once a day and some thousands (yep, thousands, check her reviews if you don't trust me and add your own comment) readers jump on their seats every time she posts a new chapter.


There are many reasons, of course, but I think that Offside is also a very good example of showing vs. telling.

Let's read this passage (chapter 7, EPOV)

"My house was quiet and empty when I got there, so I cooked and devoured a pizza from the freezer, quickly finishing up my homework, and then pulled out my sketchbook. I had a couple hours before Dad would be home, and I was almost done with the goalie picture. Just a few changes here and there – deepening the shades, softening the angles. When I was done I pulled it out of the book and neatly trimmed the edges.

It actually looked pretty good, I thought. I narrowed my eyes at the paper, looking at it from different sides for a minute. I wondered if Ms. Denali would like it…I mean, it was
still a fucking soccer picture. Is that art? I shook my head a little before sticking it into my homework folder and placing everything into my book bag. I hauled the bag back downstairs and deposited it on the floor in the kitchen.

[...Dad arrives at home...]

"Edward! Get down here!"

Shit, what now?

I unlocked the door and headed back down the stairs.

"Yeah, Dad?" I asked as I walked into the kitchen where he was chowing down on Chinese food. My book bag was open, and my homework folder was sitting in the middle of the table.

"What the fuck is this?" he asked, shoving the sketch I had just finished over towards me.

Shit shit shit.


"That's not a fucking answer," he growled.

Might as well get it over with.

"I went for the art class instead of study hall," I told him. I tried to brush it off. "Another easy A for my senior year…ya know?"

"Goddamnit, Edward!" He slammed his hand down on the table, and I cringed.

"You should be out on the fucking field during that time! What the hell is wrong with you?"

"My last period is open," I told him.

"And I go to the field at lunch, I figured-"

"Bullshit," he snapped. I started to reach for the sketch, realizing too late how big a mistake that was. He grabbed it, tore it up, and crumpled the pieces in his hand. "You don't focus on this shit. Soccer, asshole. You focus on soccer, and that's it, you hear me? You think Real Volturi is going to want to look at your fucking coloring?"

"No, Dad," I admitted. He shoved the torn paper into the bag of empty soy sauce packets and fortune cookies before tossing it in the garbage can.

"Drop that fucking art class tomorrow."

My stomach tightened up into a nice little ball of pizza dough or whatever, but I swallowed hard and replied.



OK, wipe your tears.

What do we see?

1) Edward likes drawing.
Did Savage tell us that?
But if you don't like drawing, you don't spend two hours doing it and wondering about what your art teacher will think about your work.

2) Edward's dad is a jerk.
Did Savage tell us that?
But she showed him yelling and growling at his son, without a reason (unless you are on his side, but this would be another story...) and destroying his work.

3) Savage makes us feel Edward's passion while drawing: she doesn't say "he finished his soccer picture," but makes us see him doing it ("deepening the shades, softening the angles"). We can empathize, thinking about ourselves putting time and effort in something we love.

4) Savage makes us feel Edward's pain: "My stomach tightened up into a nice little ball of pizza dough or whatever, but I swallowed hard and replied." If we have ever experienced the same feeling, we can empathize with Edward and feel sorry for him. It seems that Edward's dad is destroying our own picture.

Let's try to tell the same scene:

"Edward spent two hours finishing a picture and enjoyed it very much. His father didn't appreciated it because he thought that Edward's focus must be on his soccer practice and destroyed the picture."
The facts are the same, but don't elicit the same reaction, right?

Even more telling and less showing: "Edward's dad is a jerk and he doesn't threat his son well."
No tears at all this time, are there?

This week's writing tip is: read Offside and underline every passage that makes you cry, laugh, hold your breath (it's a story that will make you underline many passages...)

Then write down what do the underlined passage tell (eg "Edward misses..." "Edward loves..." -- you have to read the story to find out who is Edward missing or loving LOL ) and notice the differences between telling and showing.

At this point, you may try to write your own scenes, e.g., try to write the scene above showing a caring dad who encourages Edward to pursuit his artistic career. You can share it in the comments to this post, too.

I've made a blinkie for Offside, you can see and grab it here: http://myreadinglounge.blogspot.com/2011/06/blinkie-offside-meet-soccerward.html

If you read this fic, don't forget to tell the author that Raum sent you and say  "Ciao" from me! Thanks!
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  1. to my friends Camilla and Rags: this one above is for you!

    to Emergency Beta Service: you rock!

    to Rose Arcadia: I'm glad we're both enjoying so much this fic!

    - Raum

  2. Loved this, I am so glad we're reading this too!

  3. Well, I have to say, given the first chapter, and this author's other stories, I was ready to dismiss this story as yet another doucheward that I would be just as glad not to read. I am really sick and tired of, and sincerely hate, male protagonists who feel nothing but disdain, or else contemptuous using lust, for every single female on the planet except that magic one girl that he ends up falling for.

    It infuriates me that such a male gets a pass on his disgusting attitudes and behavior just because he is Edward and uber-hot, sexy, talented, whatever, and we know he is eventually destined to be redeemed. What does this say about authors' and readers' attitudes toward ourselves and other women? What does that say about our expectations or fantasies about relations between men and women?

    In addition, this particular trope then makes the female protagonist a blatant self-insert Mary Sue. It also makes the male's 'reformation' so implausible.

    Real men or boys who really see all females except their "Chosen One" as annoying/skanky cunts or just fugly do not magically become respectful, caring, attentive, kind, supportive wonderful lovers/friends/partners. Personally I have never seen a man with that kind of attitude actually change. He may turn on the charm to pursue a woman whom he desires until he acquires her. Then, even if an enduring relationship ensues, the old ugly attitudes come back to the fore and the woman is the one saddled with the task of accommodating herself to them, including the puerile infidelities that are invariably part of the relationship. DSK, Governator, Weiner, to name the most recent three.

    From your quote, I can see that Savage has presented a good case for sympathy for Edward, as well as conditions that might have produced his disgusting attitudes. I may or may not venture to read - the implausibility factor of the change that Bella will eventually engender in him is a huge obstacle for me - but I will certainly concede sympathy for his home situation.

  4. Hi Miaokuancha!

    I appreciate that Savage's fics make the readers discuss so much. So far, I consider Soccerward better developed than the Edward of other stories by the same author, as "Could be worse, right?"

    In my (humble) opinion, one of Savage's main points is that men (and women, of course) are not divided just into "evil" vs. "good."
    I hated Soccerward in the first chapters of "Offiside," then I cried for him.
    What happened (in me)?
    If an author can elicit so many contrasting feelings in her readers, I guess she's at least worth to be discussed.

    Savage usually gives a lot of attention to Edward. Edward is absolutely my favorite character in the saga, but if we look closely at his story, he's more "doucheward" even than Savage's characters.
    Edward in "Twilight" is a killer, and a serial killer as well. Does he "deserve" the chance to be loved by Bella? To try to do something better with his (very long) life?

    Redemption, in my opinion, doesn't mean that someone who did something terrible will be a *perfect* man, that he won't screw up anything again...it CAN happen, we can HOPE that it will happen, but it's very rare. But surely the redeemed character is supposed to go through a big change: e. g., Edward won't kill humans anymore, although he screws up other things ('New Moon' and the way he behaves with Bella is a clear example).

    In real life, there are many shades to consider:
    -- I've read the discussion about "Could be worse..." on 'A different forest,' and I believe that for someone who knows first-hand violence,
    admitting redemption for a person responsible of that same violence is a huge step.
    -- in "Offside," the story is focused on Edward's redemption, but what about Edward's Dad? Does anyone wish him a HEA? Why yes, why not?

    Let me know your thoughts and keep me posted about your opinion about the story if you read it!!

    - Raum

  5. Another thing I'd like to point out is that in "Offside" Edward is not 100 years old, as in "Hide and Drink," nor 30 years old, as in "Could be worse...," but he's 17 (and he hasn't been seventeen "for a while" ;-D)

  6. I don’t believe in redemption, my experience said so, but that doesn’t meant that I don’t appreciate a good novel/ story, like many other women I turn into fanfic reading just to go away from real life for a while. Did That mean I believe he HEA?, the Disney or fairytale ending in RL? No.
    I just enjoy a good writer who can manipulate feelings while reading it and exhort an opinion about the characters also enjoy a story where I can imagine the environment and places where the story take place in.
    Savage’s stories make the above happen and I’m glad about it because make some of the hard day vanished into a self discussion about how should or shouldn’t a person has to behavior in to the world.

    Remember a story/ novel is just that, a writer’s fantasy,

    sorry is a anonymous couldn't sign in

  7. Hi oldmeone,

    thanks for joining the discussion!

    - Raum
    ps: if you have problems signing in to leave comments, drop me an email, other users reported that, I don't know why it happens, but I can add your name if you want me to.


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