The Big Mistake In My Hated New Thriller: Forgetting To Show, Not Tell
When I read this recent essay by Stephen King yesterday — IMAGERY AND THE THIRD EYE — I realized one of the reasons I hate the thriller I am trying to finish. I’m sick of it.
The main reason I hate the process is that I originally wrote most of the book more than 25 years ago. I put it aside for other projects. I got bugged a couple of times since then because I had wasted time on something I had not finished.
One of the reasons I am still hating this is because it’s not an original idea for me any more. In my head, I have already written the book. I’m done with it.
But it’s not done with me. I can’t do anything about that.
But I realize that as I struggle to finish it, I’m hurrying to get it done … over with. And in that rush, I am failing to visualize my scenes as usual. I’m just describing them, almost like stage directions in a play.
I can do something about that.
So, King’s piece make me stop and think. It also made me pull out a copy of his book On Writing (pictured above) that I reviewed back when I was regular contributor to Barron’s. That book of King’s , was not only a joy to read and review, but a valuable source of education and inspiration for me. I highly recommend it. Read King’s essay first, then you may want to dig deeper with On Writing.
REWRITING, VISUALIZING, DESCRIBING.
So, this morning (I’m up at 4:30 a.m. to write) I took a scene in this book I hate and rewrote it.
THE ORIGINAL …
With that, Martindale turned and made his way through the open door into a salon with broad windows overlooking the harbor, antique divans and other contra-comfortable furniture, walls covered with oil paintings – one covered entirely in an ancient tapestry.
… VERSUS THE EDIT
With that, Martindale turned and made his way into a hangar-sized hall. Small-paned windows covered the facing wall and framed the Epaphos waiting in the harbor. Antique divans and other carefully arranged period pieces decorated room like props copied from museum photographs. Oil paintings marched across the wall to the left. And on the right hung a vast ancient tapestry populated by knights, serfs and horses surrounding a stag as it bled to death.
(A previous paragraph described the Epaphos as a 57-foot launch that served as a launch for the Princess Io, Martindale’s vast 612-foot ultra yacht.)
STILL NEEDS WORK
The edit is better. It creates a visual and says something about Martindale, a billionaire multinational banker. It still needs work. But I’m in a hurry and probably won’t revisit that paragraph.
I will, however, re-read On Writing and I will take the time to visualize scenes better.