Show, Tell and Writing Active Voice

Many writers struggle with the craft elements of scene/show, tell/exposition, and writing active or passive voice. Consider the following element descriptions, view the example and try to incorporate the same methods in your writing.

Exposition – This tells the writer information. Critique groups will say you’re telling too much or using too much exposition when they mean you’re not using enough scene.

Example: Olivia lived in a house with her brother and sister. Her brother’s name was William and her sister’s name was Elaine. Each day the three siblings attended classes at The Wild Apothecary. Mr. Everland who taught the identification of medicinal herbs, came each day to escort them to the school.  

Exposition isn’t bad, but when its large blocks it just starts reading like a giant information dump that is distant from the reader joining the story. Readers like to immerse themselves. Use exposition throughout the text to provide important information that isn’t interesting in scene.

Scene/Show – This shows the reader the story as if they’re joining the adventure and events in the story. This is where they get to travel through the experiences of your main character(s) (MCs).

Example: Wind rattled the windowpane and pulled Amelia Hanson from an awful, dreadful dream. She jerked awake and sat up. The images of hobgoblins stealing her baby sister faded from memory. She scanned the room and froze. Shadows danced in the moonlight and cast varying shades of light and dark around her. Scratching sounds scurried behind the walls. A floorboard creaked and she huddled down under her covers. Footfalls thudded down the hall towards her room and stopped outside her closed door. She shrank against the bedroom wall, glanced at the window and gasped.

Under the light, a tiny creature suctioned to the glass tapped three times. It flicked its scraggly hair over its shoulders and itched the strands draped across their chin like a beard as if it were a little man. The tiny pig-bellied beast sniffed his bulbous nose and banged his head against the glass wailing.

The thuds in the hall stopped. All was silent and then the thuds retreated, swiftly down the hall, banging against wall as it fled.  

^ This is scene or showing.  

Passive and active voice – are grammar choices in style.

Example: Active voice, the subject acts. Amelia shrank against the wall. Amelia is the subject. She shrank (acted) against is a preposition and the wall is the object.

Writers construct passive sentences when they utilize one of the “to be” verb forms and when the subject isn’t clear. Usually what completes the action isn’t well defined. The action happens to the subject instead or the subject is left out entirely.

Example: The book was read by the girl. The turkey was eaten by the dog.

Object action and then subject forms the passive form.

It can occur without the subject too. “The Book was read.” It’s not clear who read the book. It’s sort of disembodied and ambiguous.

YouTube Channel Update

As a writer and editor, I’ve looked for ways to get more of me out there. Not just the writing, but marketing who I am, why I write, and what I write. Part of that is participating as one of the leaders for The Band of the Red Hand fan and cosplay group, as founded on Facebook by my friend Craig Powers. It’s a fan/cosplay group for “The Wheel of Time” written by Robert Jordan.

The series has been a favorite of mine since its release in 1990. I’ve read it so many times, I can’t count how many. Perhaps more than 20 times except for the last three books. Reading helped me through my childhood. Learning, reading and writing truly sustained me for decades and Robert Jordan’s work became a huge inspiration for me through my education and in my career.

I am a professional writer and editor today, because of writers like Robert Jordan.

With that, I decided to throw myself into the fandom. I LOVE the series. So do many other people and since Matrim Cauthon, the band’s leader is my favorite character, I had to join Craig’s group. We’re building a YouTube channel for this fandom. We have a few unique qualities in ours that will include content from multiple members and some of those contributors will not just talk about the books and TV show, but probably our cosplay as well.

As a professional writer, mother and nerd, I struck out to create my first video. It was a learning experience. My first effort isn’t great. I am not a YouTube professional and I am no model or actor. I am a fan though and shall see what people think of my first effort. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ss_2cxHgPI&t=929s

Starting a YouTube Channel

If I had known the work required to create a YouTube channel ahead of time, I might have reconsidered my ideas. The quality of a camera, sound and lights truly matter in the YouTube world, yet it’s difficult to invest that kind of money when the channel isn’t a proven success. On the other hand, perhaps it’s good I didn’t know the level of work, because once I get an idea to do something, I tend to see it through as far as I can. The YouTube channel is no exception. In fact, I’m committed to two channels.

The compromise, I have setup what I can afford to create the best content I can right now.

One channel will be focused on Starweather Press, LLC writing topics, books, critical analysis, craft elements and my personal writing journey.

The other channel is dedicated to a fan and cosplay group called The Band of the Red Hand. It’s a fan group for “The Wheel of Time” book series by Robert Jordan. The group founder, Craig Powers, administrates our activities on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/407484983347169/

When I joined The Band, I started work on organizing cosplay efforts and our YouTube channel. It’s been months in the making and still not professional level, but every new endeavor must start somewhere and for me and us it starts here.