Launching Romance into the stars.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

World Building - Show, Don't Tell

I went to see Man of Steel (LOVED it!) over the weekend, and during the scenes on Krypton, all I could think about was the amazing world building. And in movies, it is all about showing. Because one simply can't tell about what the world looks like and still keep the audience's attention.

And instead of providing a panoramic view of the planet, audiences watched as Jor-El flew his dragon-like creature across the skies, trying to escape Zod's forces. Just plain awesome!

Authors have to do the same thing in stories. We cannot stop the action so the characters can tell us about their surroundings. We have to show them interacting with their environment. Otherwise, it ruins the pacing and can pull the reader out of the story.

My two June releases are set in very different worlds, one on a pleasure planet, and the other in a dystopian futuristic world run by a corporation. Here are some examples of how I reveal my worlds:

Here is Ava being guided around Elatia for the first time:

Side-by-side with Jacobus, she strolled past booths selling eletin creams, lotions, and oils, while others sported various wares made from veech. The delicious scent of spiced cider wafted around her. She licked her dry lips, her throat suddenly parched. Glancing around, she paused, longing for something to drink. On the other side of the street sat the brewery, with a vendor out front pushing an assortment of candy including eletin chews. Her stomach rumbled. She hadn’t eaten since grabbing a protein bar at breakfast.


She nodded, biting on her bottom lip. Although eager to sample the tempting food of this planet, she’d forgotten to grab some spending money before leaving Star Spirit. Out of luck.

With slight pressure on her back, Jacob encouraged her to continue walking, leaving the vendors behind. “All of this awaits you in your suite. There is a full spread of delicacies from this planet, as well as the highest quality of eletin products to enhance your pleasure.”

For the first time since she’d received the message from Madame Evangeline, Ava smiled. Even if her date didn’t work out, the preparation would be well worth the money. At least, she hoped.

And here is Melina reporting for work:

Melina whistled, riding the glide to Planet Core. The day promised to be the best yet. Not only did she start training for the mission to Airondelle today—a welcome change from head of the sanitary engineers for the complex—but, she would see Brook after she put in her necessary hours. And she planned a hot and heavy evening, making full use of the leftover strawberries.

The glide dinged, reaching the end of its track. The complex loomed ahead. Though, the sight failed to fill her with dread today. She no longer contemplated a way to leave the city, only a means for her and Brook to be together without having to hide their relationship.

Among the throng of other employees, she stepped off the glide, heading toward the mass of steel that made up Planet Core Headquarters. Corralled through the gates of the employee entrance, the people split off to be scanned into their specific department doorway. Instead of heading left as usual, Melina turned right, walking toward the new mission training access. She gazed into the retina scanner.

“Holloway, Melina. You are to report to Malock’s office immediately.”

She tensed, limbs shaking, waiting for an armed escort. Shit, what did I do? No one got called to Malock’s office in the morning, unless they were to be reprimanded, or worse.

The glass door in front of her slid open. She stepped into the foyer, security immediately by her side.

“This way,” said the guard to her left.

Notice how in both cases, the character is NOT stationary, glancing around. They are interacting with their world, showing it to you as they experience it. Tell me: What fictional world would you love to visit?

SALE!! Never Gonna Let You Go and Sudden Breakaway are only 99 cents at Amazon until the end of June.


Jessica Subject is the author of contemporary and science fiction romance, ranging from sweet to erotica. In her stories, you could meet clones, or a sexy alien or two. You may even be transported to another planet for a romantic rendezvous.

When Jessica isn't reading, writing, or doing dreaded housework, she likes to get out and walk. Fast. But she just may slow down if there is a waterfall nearby.

Jessica lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two energetic children. And she loves to hear from her readers. You can find her at and on twitter @jsubject.


Taryn Kincaid said...

Best wishes with your new releases. Love the new look of the site!

Liza O'Connor said...

Took me forever to find the correct link to post comment. And now I've forgotten what witty thing I wished to say. So allow me pontificate instead: Show vs. Tell. I think there is room for both. A good tell is most memorable. To be or not to be...
Almost all memorable quotes are tells. But they should be nestled into the fabric of showing like sparkling diamonds.

Jessica E. Subject said...

Taryn - Thank you so much! :)

Liza - I agree. There is room for both. But, when describing a person, place, or thing, IMO, it is better to show the reader than to tell us about it. Telling should be reserved for other aspects of the story, and used sparingly.

Unknown said...

Good Post Best Romance author...Best Selling Romance Authors India