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Writing Books/help making my story flow easier


Hello. I have never been published, but am working on a book. I have been writing ever since I was eight years old. I am trying to write a novel now, and have started. I have a great idea, wonderful characters, and the location is perfect! My issue is ... as I write I feel my story is too detailed. I have problems with making the story flow. Also, I have problems with "show don't tell". I feel that certain information has to be relayed in the beginning of the story and my character is alone when the story begins, so I cannot have the information relayed through dialogue. I end up having my character "tell" it ( the story is in first person). I know its best to get the information through little by little over a few chapters, but this may have the reader confused since the information is very important to the story, and in a sense IS the story. My question is, how can I relay certain facts without "telling", if my character is alone, and is not able to have a conversation about it??? I also would like to make the story flow from one scene to the next without detailing too much. Any ideas??  Thank you for your time, and any advice would be much appreciated!!  Tara

Hi, Tara!

Sorry for the delay in responding. I should have put myself on vacation here while I was being a judge for a writing competition.

With first person, it's hard not to have a certain amount of alone time. But I think you might be confused on the difference between "tell" and "show."  Telling isn't so much an act of the character being alone and reciting things, as it is the method of relaying the information to the reader. For example, this is telling:

I opened the door and walked through the perfumed room, trying to catch up with the man in front of me without him noticing.

This is showing:

My muscles tensed as I slowly pulled the door open; careful not to let the hinges squeak. I'm sure the furnishings in the room were as lovely as the scent of lavender and vanilla filling my nose with each breath. But I had no time to enjoy them. My eyes were fixed on the killer's back. He hadn't noticed me yet and I intended to keep it that way.

In both snippets, the character is alone and is describing his/her surroundings. But in the "showing" bit, the character is interacting with the scenery in a way that the reader feels connected with the character. It's as though they're in the room with the character--trying not to be noticed. First person is great for involving the reader, because while the reader KNOWS the character will be alone part of the time, they're dropping into the character's world and living through them. You have the opportunity to drop in scents and sounds, emotions and taste. If your story is detailed, more the better. But the details should be specific to the character LIVING in the world. I could go on and on about a beautiful painting the character sees, but it has to evoke something within the character--either a memory or a feeling--in order for me, as a reader, to find it interesting.

Does that help?

Good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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