What did I learn from reading this week. That _____ my illustrious friend and sometimes writing partner has no shame when piling her husband with truly wretched Christian fiction and ordering him to leave these atrocities in our home when he visits to play games all night…cough cough… I mean attend camp board meetings. I was having a hard time getting into a book, about boys and brownies and riding dragons and stuff, and decided to take a quick break and read one of the Novella collections she had sent. “Wyoming Christmas Heroes” gushy but I seem to be able to suspend disbelief quite easily and so I dove in.
The first novella looked promising. A young widow who is 7.5 months pregnant with twins moves to Wyoming in the middle of winter and although blizzards, slippery stairs, and car wrecks cause her trauma her handsome next door neighbor just happens to be a doctor. I was thrilled, mushiness and babies, perfect.
Not so! This author apparently had never heard of “Show don’t Tell” and it was pure torture to stumble through her many declarations such as “Annie had a wonderful time…Gabe and Katie had a very loving family, and they made her feel a part of it, which she so appreciated since she’d never had one of her own.”
What! I don’t believe you. Show me how she felt so warm and accepted, show me that she is missing a family of her own, don’t tell me! Urg! and then things like this: “Gabe wondered at the pleasure he experienced at her statement. He was attracted to her even in her condition. She didn’t mention a husband or boyfriend, and he couldn’t say he was sorry about that. He’d like to get to know her.”
This man met her all of 2 seconds ago and is already gushing about her, and I don’t believe him. Why is he so attracted? What makes her special? Does every beautiful, hugely pregnant woman that steps off the bus send his heart all a flutter. And if so, why? Francine Rivers did a much better job when she sent Joe to search for Dinah, a rape victim who is being pressured to get an abortion and decided to run away from college and home to make her own decision. The book has yet to say that he is in love with her, but we get the idea.
“Someone was out there, standing on the far point looking at the Pacific Ocean. Long blond hair twirled in the wind.
“Yes!” Joe said under his breath. Thanking God, he crossed the street and strode toward her. When he came closer, he slowed, watching how she wrapped her arms around herself as the wind came up, her ankle-length flowered skirt fluttering around her slender legs. She was wearing hiking boots and thick socks.
As though feeling his presence, she turned. Joe watcher her eyes widen in surprise. He smiled, walking toward her.
“Joe,” she said, clearly unable to believe she was really seeing him.
He stopped in front of her, drinking in the sight of her. Her cheeks were wind-stung pink, her blue eyes solemn. She had lost the hunted look.
“Hi,” he said. When her arms loosened about herself, he put his arms around her, his heart taking a flip when he felt her hands slide around his back, returning the embrace.”
Oh yeah, he is totally in love and yet the author never says anything. No, “he was strangely attracted” or “love glittered like uncut diamonds in his eyes” nor “Her glorious hair and winning smile drew him like a dolphin into a tuna net” No she just describes his actions and words and occasionally a few vague thoughts. But it works and I can see and hear and understand and believe his love for her. It is real to me, the reader.
So now I know. Show don’t tell. It makes all the difference between being an example of reading horror and an example of true love in book form. But don’t worry _____, keep sending me those horrid novella collections. Really I do like them. I feel so much better about my writing after wading through their wretched pages and I have you to thank! I’m sure that I can do better. So muchas gracias.