Show me the story!

“Tell us your story by showing us what matters most.”

Kimberly VanderHorst


On a quest to find resources that will help my brain Show instead of Tell. Showing is a major writing struggle for me.

At the moment, my characters are floating heads in an empty room. So what do they see? What are they doing? Do I need to write about the peppers he’s frying? Do I need to write how they are red, yellow, green and turn soft after cooking?

VanderHorst’s article gave me the filter I needed to be able to judge: Is it important?

Do those peppers have meaning? Did his mother use those same peppers before she was deployed, never to return?  Silly example aside, asking what is important to the story is a huge AHA! moment for me.

It also helped me understand that those everyday, mundane things might have other uses. I could describe how particular she was about her laundry detergent, the ocean fresh smell that sends her back in time to her honeymoon at the beach, the dryer sheets that she’s fond of because the clothes come out static free. And then have her toss in blood soaked shirts into the washer without concern. Because, of course, how many times did she really need to tell him she hated peppers?


Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash

Accepting the stories I have

“I’m just going to write the stories God has given me to write”

Steven James

That resonated with me even though I would probably say “the universe.”

After close to a year of reading articles about how to write romance, I am concerned that my current WIP (work in progress) falls a bit outside of the “rules.”

But the stories I’m writing are the stories in my head and that’s all I have work with. It will have to be enough because those other stories are someone else’s to imagine and write.

If you haven’t found, grab your favorite drink, sit back, and prepare to spend some time at the screen.



Photo: Tran pexels-photo-669988 

Don’t feed the critic

NaNoWriMo is done!

50,031 words in one month.

It has been interesting. After months of struggling with stories that I couldn’t get finished, I didn’t think I could write a complete 50K word draft.

I did.

November 1 came with almost nothing in mind for this story as I sat down to type.  No outline, no index cards, no spreadsheet, no GMC.

The knowns were the main characters and part of their history.

It turned out to be FUN to discover the story as it went along. More importantly, I learned a lot about writing without worry.

This draft didn’t have to be good. It only had to be at least 50,000 words.

What a concept, right?  Everyone has a bad first draft. I’d heard it, but didn’t understand it.

Because the craft books, blog posts, webinars, workshops, whatever, are all about getting it right.  The plot points must be present, the hooks must hook, the conflict must rise, whatever must be perfect.  After all, I only have three pages to grab the attention of the publisher.

But that is the desired result at the end of the process.

For me, the process wants to begin somewhere else entirely. And that place is messy and murky and filled with passive words, mixed tenses, a still undecided number of children, and delightfully un-descriptive settings.

This month I learned to shift my thinking from “this is wrong” to “this can be fixed.”

Next month the goal is to learn how to go about fixing.

It’s a process. Relax and don’t feed the critic.



Photo by Krista McPhee on Unsplash

NaNoWriMo 2017!

Even though Ezra’s story, Book 1 in my series, isn’t complete, I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo. I need to learn how to speed up my writing so …

I’m starting to write Michael’s story, Book 2 in the series, on November 1. The goal is to have the 50K word draft at the end of the month.

So far I have the hero and heroine, the conflict (I think), and a vague plan for the HEA. There are still a few days before writing begins so maybe a bit more of a plan will happen before that!



Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

What I’m reading

Do The Work.

Mostly what I’ve been thinking is Writing is Hard but the reality is I need to Do The Work.

My favorite line? Too many to pick from but here is one:

The inner critic? His ass is not permitted in the building. Steven Pressfield

About minx

I see the word minx in almost every romance novel I read and have the same reaction each time: who uses that word?
Has anyone ever used that word in real life?

About dogs

Dogs seem to be the go to animal in romance novels. Men who have dogs, women who have dogs, women who love men who have dogs. You get the picture.
Thinking about giving one of my characters a cat.
Just because I can.

P.S. I do like dogs. 🙂

Writing is hard!

Plotting is finished for Ezra’s story, first two chapters are in draft and already I’m ready to change it all.

Photo copyright 2019 by Payton Harlie, all rights reserved.