Tuesday, September 13, 2011

There are a few reasons many urban fiction authors can't get white folks to buy there books. But one of the biggest is writing style. There are certain tricks to good writing that many black authors haven't picked up on yet. They may be good story tellers, but I know some seven year olds who can tell good stories. There is a something a little extra that goes into writing novels. And I'm not talking about grammar.

There a saying in writing schools, show don't tell. This one trick can make a story come alive in a reader's mind.

Here's and example: Mary walked in the house and saw that the living room was still messy. She was angry because she told  her husband to clean up. It was the least he could do because he didn't have a job.There was a pile of dirty clothes on the sofa right next to her husband who was watching the football game. Now she was even more angry

This sounds decent but it's telling. Look how it reads when we show instead: Mary walked into the house and tripped over a pair of sneakers. She kicked them and they landed in the empty Dominoes pizza box. "Damn it," Mary said as she slammed her purse on the table that was by the door.

She stepped over piles of dirty clothes as she made her way into the living room. What the hell are you doing?" She said.

Her husband John, was laying back on the sofa using a pile of clothes for a pillow. "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm watching the football game."

The next thing she knew, she had a pair of scissors in her hand and was headed for the TV's cord. 

Notice the difference. Not once did I write that Mary was angry in the second version. I didn't have too, you could see it.

There's another benefit showing. It takes up more space than telling. You can really stretch a book out by telling.

A great place to practice showing is when you want to describe a character. Instead of saying she is beautiful, have one character in the book tell another character say that so and so's ass looks good or she has  gorgeous face.

It's like in a movie. The director doesn't come on stage and say the actor is mad now. The actor shows you he's mad through his actions.

Now I'm not saying you want to show the whole story. It'll read more like a crazy movie script. But you'll to w\show most of it, with just enough telling to round it out. It something you have to practice. Like when Richard Pryor Or Martin Lawrence do stand up comedy. Some of what they show us is funnier than what they say.

Believe me, their are some white folks waiting for some fresh and different writers; and Urban fiction has them. We just have to speak to them in a language they understand and enjoy.

More to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment