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  • Katy Berritt

So, you think you can write huh?



So, you think you can write a book, huh? I thought so too, until I got serious about getting published. It turns out, putting a bunch of words on paper is just step one. Apparently, there’s all this important writing stuff you need to learn! I mean, who knew?

First, there’s this business about showing vs telling. What’s the difference, you ask? It’s hard to explain so I guess I’ll show you (Hah!)


TELLING

I’d made arrangements to have ‘Courtney, will you marry me?’ shown on the Yankee scoreboard just before the first pitch of the new season.

I had it planned so when I came out of the dugout, instead of running out to the field like usual, I would approach the Legend Suite box where I’d made arrangements for Courtney to sit. I had a cameraman secretly lurking behind her who would film her the minute I appeared so he could capture the tender moment, which would be televised on the scoreboard as I held out the ring box.

SHOWING

I trot a few feet. Seeing me, the crowd roars. Warmups are over so they think the game has started but it’s just little old me, the guy who—to paraphrase another Yankee—is the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Taking a deep breath, I stare up at the videoboard, and wait, wait, wait until… there it is.

Courtney Newsom, will you marry me?

The crowd erupts into cheers which quickly changes to a collective Awwww when I take a bow. I take two seconds to enjoy the words on the screen then turn to face box 103 as I search for Courtney.


Apparently, the difference is telling is someone relating what happened whereas showing puts the reader into the scene as it happens. Not being the smartest dyslexic in the world, it took me a while to figure that out but now that I have, the writing world is my oyster. Yeah, I wish, because next I learned there’s this thing called active voice vs passive voice. This one’s a little harder and I'm not sure how to explain it so I'm going to Google it…Oh, wait! That was passive voice. Active would be “I’ll Google it”. According to Google: In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice, the subject receives the action. Hmmm. Did anyone understand that? Anyone? All I know is passive voice often involves words ending in ‘ing’, like “I'm going to go to the store,” vs I plan to go to the store. See the distinction? Yeah, me either. Whatever the distinction is, all I know is that I have to scan a 90,000-word document for ‘ing’ and fix the ones that are passive. DO YOU KNOW HOW FREAKING LONG THAT TAKES! Then there’s THAT. I bet you didn’t know THAT can be a no-no. Sigh, neither did I but when I scan


(again with the scan) I discovered my story had 763 THATs. That’s a lot of THATs, most of which aren’t necessary. Apparently THAT is a filler word, along with: They are that felt/feel some look/see/saw/watch, etc. should had have as to just And a bazillion others. How do I know this? Because someone who really knows how to write told me so. And told me to get rid of them. Sigh. I think this is why Microsoft added this feature called FIND. Because some people, just like me, feel that we have to have that feature so we can look for our mistakes! (Smile) For those of you who write and are serious about it; Happy FINDing.

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