Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blogging from #AtoZChallenge - Telling flags and Topper

One of my favorite bloggers is Janice Hardy, author of the Healing Wars trilogy. She gives back to the writing community in many huge ways. Her blog will probably give you every bit of information you need to improve your writing, plus she does first page critiques. Definitely worth following.

Anyhow, I grabbed a few telling flags from her site, but I'm going to explain further so you know why this subject is so important and why you should nip over there and spend copious amounts of time. Unless of course you know all this - in which case you might just want to skip down to pictures of my husband's rotten endurance horse!

Every writer hears "telling! you need to show." Many writing faults with different names are really forms of telling. When we use distancing words (I heard, she saw, he watched etc), the sentence becomes telling. Instead of "I heard the train whistle," change it to "The train whistle blared. I pulled my coffee back from the edge of my bench just before it tumbled to the sticky ground." Not only are we closer to the character, there's tons more room for details.

There are words that almost guarantee the sentence is telling. When the reader is told WHY a character does something - to reach the other side, sighed with relief, gasped in fear.

You'll also hear to avoid adverbs. But no one tells you why! Many of them are telling. She spoke angrily. Much better: She shouted, her voice rasping across each name she called the man in bed with her best friend.

Do you know other signs of telling? Is this something you struggle with?

Topper is a grandson to our stallion Max and nephew to my mare Csavannah. He is 3/4 arab and 1/4 saddlebred. He got his coloring from the saddlebred side although Max sometimes threw some interesting color as well. Topper's color is rare though. He's considered a medicine hat, a pattern prized by some Native American tribes. The classic pattern is mostly white, with color around the ears and what's called a shield on the chest. Topper also has some color around his eyes, which is good, it helps them be less sensitive to sun.

Topper is a big boy - 15.3 hands tall (a hand is four inches) and a total goober. He is still learning where his feet are. He has no patience - but with his size, he can be hard to handle. But he is super smooth and will be doing his second 25 mile endurance ride at the end of the month - along with his one-year-younger aunt, Csavannah. She's about seven inches shorter, so they'll make an interesting pair.


  1. Great explanation of why telling tags are a problem! I'll share with my writer's group!

  2. Good reminder about the telling! Stopped by for A to Z challenge. Nice blog!

    1. Thanks - yours is great too. Love the color.

  3. Excellent advice-- I'm going to have to do a search through my work for these words. Thanks for the tips!

  4. I really try not use those but I end up having to revise them out! Sigh.