Find the “showing” in your own backyard

I’m always working at showing and not telling. With the story in my head it is so easy to just want to pull up chair and have a good old fashioned story time chat, but then that wouldn’t make a good book—in fact, that would be a boring book. Readers want to live the characters experiences. I know this because as an avid reader that us how I feel every time I pick up a book and it’s what keeps me reading.

As a tactic to write more “showing” scenes, I try my best to go to some of the setting in my books. I’ve walked along the Galveston Seawall on the very steps where my heroine is caught up in a chase. I took in the surroundings, the smells, the people and every little tiny detail I could that could put the reader in her shoes. For the middle grade I’m writing, which takes place in a zoo, I took my family to the local zoo. We had fun spending the day and again I soaked up as much info I could.

However, sometimes all that “showing” description and trying to put the reader there can get carried away. And you don’t always have to leave your house or even your backyard for the answers. Here’s a funny story for you.

I wanted to paint the image of a tranquil, peaceful morning at the beginning of a chapter. Now, by saying just that would be “telling.” So, I said that my character woke, “to a symphony of chirping crickets.” I went on to describe the sunrise and how it felt on his arms. I read it. Edited it a little more and sent it off to my critique partner. She sent it back to me and pointed out that crickets chirp at night.


Yep, since I live in the middle of a forest I felt pretty dumb. So, the next morning I walked out on my back patio with my cup of morning tea and sat, waiting on the sunrise. I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds. There were no crickets. I was surprised to hear dripping noises though. I looked around confused thinking maybe it had rained over night. It hadn’t. It was the morning dew dripping from the tall shade trees in the forest. It was a tranquil sound and accomplished the same experience that I wanted my character to experience. Only this was true, this can actually happen because I personally experienced it.

You can find description, action and literary inspiration all around you. Get creative with where you live and find inspiration in your own home.


You can learn more about my non-fiction books, freelance projects, speaking engagements and writing workshops at You can also follow my blog Pen to Publish, which frequently covers the challenges and blessings of being a writing mom! I’m teaching a workshop this October for $20 with Write It Forward Workshops through Who Dares Wins Publishing. The course Writing Moms: How to do it all without losing your mind! I’ll teach self-study techniques that can help you adapt a schedule to help meet your writing goals being mom. For more information click here.



4 comments on “Find the “showing” in your own backyard

  1. Excellent post, Elizabeth. I didn’t notice your earlybird crickets as I was reading your description, so that wouldn’t have bothered me. It didn’t excite me either.

    The second example immersed me in the scene with imagery that was original, fresh and unpretentious. The sound of morning dew dripping off shade trees… Perfect.

  2. Charlotte,

    This was my guest post today and yes, I felt so silly when I realized crickets chirp in the evening and not the night! It’s just another great example of the value of critique partners. Now not only did I find a better way to “show” the scene but it is also more realistic.

    Thanks for the compliment. This story is a work in progress and I’m absolutely
    in love with it more than anything I’ve worked on. I know it is special 🙂

    Natalie C. Markey

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