Show vs Tell with Juanita Kees

This week we have author Juanita Kees sharing with us all about how to Show and not Tell in your fiction writing. She has a new book out this month, Fast Lane, Book 2 of her Calhoun Customs Garage. 

Juanita escapes the real world by reading and writing Australian Rural Romance novels with elements of suspense, Australian Fantasy Paranormal and Small-Town USA stories. Her romance novels star spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in. She creates emotionally engaging worlds steeped in romance, suspense, mystery and intrigue, set in dusty, rural outback Australia and on the NASCAR racetracks of America. When she’s not writing, Juanita is mother to three boys and has a passion for fast cars and country living.

Juanita Kees on the web:

Show vs Tell 

Hello, readers. Thank you for joining me here today to talk about show vs tell.
Remember, way back in school when we had show and tell days? As writers, nothing has changed. Our job is to create pictures in the reader’s head, build worlds that they can visualize as they read and ‘show’ them our hero and heroine. This is a skill that doesn’t always come easily, one we have to develop and grow along with our writing. Our minds automatically revert to telling a story, the way Grandad would tell us a story from ‘the old days’.

Growing up, I remember my dad reading stories to us at bedtime. They almost always began with: Once upon a time, there was a little girl (or boy)… The word ‘was’ is a good indication of telling not showing. Fiction has grown beyond storytelling and the competition is hot on how to hook and hold a reader, how to immerse the reader in the world you’ve created.

Today, I’m going to share with you two excerpts. One will be telling, the other will be showing so I can ‘show’ you the difference. This is a scene from book 2 in the Calhoun Customs Garage series, Fast Lane. Here goes…

Trinity rolled her shoulders. Her neck was stiff and her body was restrained by the harness. Her hands were tight on the wheel. She braced her legs and lined up in fifth position behind the pace car. There was a nagging feeling in her stomach. She knew it was race nerves mixed with adrenaline. That was standard.

Trinity rolled her shoulders, eased the stiffness in her neck, and stretched her spine against the restraint of the body harness. Gloved hands tight on the wheel, legs braced, she lined up in fifth position behind the pace car and brushed aside the nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach. Pre-race nerves mixed with adrenaline. Standard.

Can you tell the difference? The change from tell to show changes the rhythm and flow of the sentence completely. Which one gives you the best visual of Trinity in her racing seat? Can you feel her tension and that nagging feeling in the second example?

That’s show and tell in its simplest form, a skill that can make or break a story. Here is what readers had to say about book 1, Overdrive:

“This story has so much to love, racing cars, beautiful artwork, families that love and struggle and a romance that will melt your heart with the joy it brings, Charlie and Chase are the most beautiful couple and what they have to go through will have you turning the pages, Charlie is so strong and amazing what she has been through and how she stands up to her father wow I was cheering her on and the love and caring that she gives to the Calhoun’s is fabulous and the way the family supports her and of course Chase man what a hero I loved him, what can I say, thank you MS Kees for another keeper and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Do yourself a favour don’t miss this story.” ~ Helen Sibritt (Goodreads)

Fast Lane (Calhoun Customs Garage Book 2)

Trinity Calhoun is a name everyone knows on the race circuit, but her days in the hot seat are numbered. She’s tired of the limelight, meaningless relationships and long hours behind the wheel. When her father calls her and her sister home, she’s ready. She slips right back into the family business, finishing off the custom car projects her father has lined up. But racing is in her blood and she’s lured back to risking her life on the hot rod drag strips outside of town. It’s there she meets paramedic and volunteer firefighter, Reece Balmain, who has her re-thinking the road her life is taking.

Reece Balmain arrives in Big Fork a broken man. He’s lived and breathed through horror accidents, haunted by the faces of the people he’s cut from vehicles. He knows one thing–speed kills. He’s hoping not to see too much of it in small town Montana, until he hears about the drag races taking place outside of town. He knows Trinity Calhoun. He’s watched her race, seen her win, held his breath when her car somersaulted into barriers in Daytona Beach. He doesn’t like what she does, but he can’t stay away from the woman who’s claiming his heart.

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OVERDRIVE (Calhoun Customs Garage Book 1)

Chase Calhoun has worked hard at making Calhoun Customs a world-wide sensation and keeping his father’s dream alive. He hasn’t had time to think about settling down, so he’s not expecting to find love or new life hiding in the attic of their garage among the ghosts of his family’s past.

Charlotte Jackson is on the run from a rebellious past, determined to prove she can be a good mom to three-month-old baby, Zoe. Tired of being delegated to the back office of the racing team her famous NASCAR family owns, she sets out to establish herself as a custom design artist. But she’s out of money, luck and time, and she can’t hide in the attic at Calhoun Customs forever.

While Chase slowly loses his heart to his refrigerator thief and the baby bundle asleep in his laundry basket, Charlotte learns that sometimes family is more than just blood and DNA.

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  1. A lovely and interesting post Naas. Lots to read and enjoy. Thank you so much and I wish you a very good weekend!

  2. Thank you, Denise! Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I remember looking up a sample from the first "Twilight" book years ago. The number of times the word 'was' turned up appalled me. ~shakes head~ Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    1. Hi Darla, you're welcome. Show vs tell definitely makes a difference to the book.

  4. well written summary...sound interesting books.
    Have a great weekend

  5. Excellent pointers and tips. Thank you.

  6. This is awesome advice. Thank you. Congrats on the new book.

  7. That is a hard one. A guy in my writers group had to be pushed to do more showing. He was getting better after a while.


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