Need a short description!

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
Post Reply
Preacher
Posts: 159
Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 2:34 pm
Contact:

Need a short description!

Post by Preacher » October 26th, 2011, 11:10 am

Working on a query letter i keep ending up with the sentence "a strange, paranoid woman shows up at his job." I would like to change it to a show sentence and not a tell. Can anyone give advice on a way to rewrite it and still keep it kind of short?

User avatar
oldhousejunkie
Posts: 250
Joined: March 16th, 2010, 10:15 am
Location: South Carolina
Contact:

Re: Need a short description!

Post by oldhousejunkie » October 26th, 2011, 11:18 am

I think I would say: "When a strange woman confronts him, claiming **insert crazy paranoid stuff**, finish sentence."

User avatar
Hillsy
Posts: 303
Joined: December 9th, 2009, 4:33 am
Location: Gravesend, UK
Contact:

Re: Need a short description!

Post by Hillsy » October 26th, 2011, 11:28 am

oldhousejunkie wrote:I think I would say: "When a strange woman confronts him, claiming **insert crazy paranoid stuff**, finish sentence."
Hell, you could probably even drop "strange" assuming the **Insert crazy paranoid stuff** is strange in itself.....if you believe ants from another planet are secretly spying on you while your showering, I think anyone would think you're a "strange" woman

Preacher
Posts: 159
Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 2:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Need a short description!

Post by Preacher » October 26th, 2011, 11:36 am

I want to show her paranoia but the scene as written only has her babbling about "them" coming to get her and her laughing hysterically when it's suggested she is safe. She, at one point, does spit out "Time to fly, fly, fly," and then "you can catch me i'm the ginger bread girl." I don't want to make this a long description i wondered if there were ticks or other stuff to show her problem like big eyes that don't blink. I guess i could use her words and insert that in there and see how it plays.

User avatar
dios4vida
Posts: 1119
Joined: February 22nd, 2010, 4:08 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: Need a short description!

Post by dios4vida » October 27th, 2011, 11:30 am

Preacher wrote: I don't want to make this a long description i wondered if there were ticks or other stuff to show her problem like big eyes that don't blink. I guess i could use her words and insert that in there and see how it plays.
If someone's paranoid, they usually have shifting eyes, wringing hands, can't stand still, won't stay near open windows or put their backs to a door. They're distrustful of strangers. They might bite their lip or shift their weight or pace. There's a ton of different ways to show it without having her speak.

I'd suggest checking out the Thesaurus Thursdays on the Bookshelf Muse http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/20 ... sdays.html. The list on the right are all clickable links to physical acts and characteristics for specific emotions. It's amazing. You'll find all sorts of way to show her strangeness/paranoia there.

Good luck!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Need a short description!

Post by polymath » October 27th, 2011, 11:50 am

Try a physical description based on how the he observes her senses her behavior. Like, is she frantic? What do her actions look like from his perspective? Her strangeness and paranoia are ideally reader assessments. And if there's going to be more than one descriptor, three's a strong formula. What I tell you three times is true, Aristotle. Frantic, intent, impatient, the anxious woman barged into his workplace. Different context than paranoid, and emotionally flat, but then I don't want to impose. What does paranoia look like? More than eyes and face, it's whole body actions. Body posture is more revealing from a distance than facial expressions.
Spread the love of written word.

bcomet
Posts: 588
Joined: January 23rd, 2010, 2:11 pm
Contact:

Re: Need a short description!

Post by bcomet » November 17th, 2011, 2:10 pm

I think of the "brother" in The Wedding Crashers. He was marvelously weird and paranoid.. He'd be easy and fun to describe through his actions and gestures.

User avatar
Mira
Posts: 1354
Joined: December 7th, 2009, 9:59 am
Contact:

Re: Need a short description!

Post by Mira » November 21st, 2011, 1:01 am

I don't know if you really need to 'show not tell' in a query letter....but maybe I'm wrong?

But if it's important .....I think there's good advice on this thread...the only thing I'd add is you could pull it from the writing. Go back to the scene you're talking about, and summarize what she says and does. That way it reflects your voice and the writing.

I think what's really important is that it be in your voice. For example, the phrase: "the lady was completely bonkers" packs a punch even though it's 'show not tell'. It's the voice that really gives it power. My humble opinion....

Good luck!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests