Blog Tour: Blood on the Pen Author David W. Huffstetler Guest Post

Welcome to the next stop in the Blood on the Pen mini-tour. Author David W. Huffstetler took time out today to share with us a guest post called "What's All This about Telling and Not Showing?". You can view the full tour schedule over at Tribute Books HERE

David W. Huffstetler Links: Website / Blog / Facebook

David Huffstetler's Bio: Educated in Dallas, North Carolina, David Huffstetler holds degrees in Engineering and Business Administration. He has worked in the area of human relations and spent fourteen years weaving through the maze of politics, including participating in a Federal Law suit as Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Commission, with a sitting governor over issues of separation of powers. David has served on Boards of Directors for numerous professional organizations including Crime Stoppers, SC Workers’ Compensation Educational Association, SC Safety Council, the SC Fire Academy, and the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Workers’ Compensation. He has advised governors and legislators on matters of public policy and legislation. His wealth of experience is broad and brings deep insight to his writing.
David’s work as a senior manager with a major industrial concern took him to international venues and exposures that helped feed his urge to write Disposable People, a dramatic expose of the working conditions and politics that engulf undocumented workers. Disposable People is a top-ten “Suggested Book” at Tufts University in Boston, MA.

He turned the frustrations and rejection that plagues thousands of yet-to-be-published authors into the heralded mystery/thriller Blood on the Pen, with a serial killer disposing of literary agents. David, an avid history buff, led him to write Dead in Utah, the story of Joe Hill, the controversial musician and union organizer accused of a double murder in 1914.

His books receive praise from mystery readers across the globe.

As an editor, David edited a treatise on the South Carolina workers’ compensation laws, as well as, Shannon Faulkner’s novel Fire and Ice. Shannon was the first female cadet at the Citadel. She received national publicity for her federal lawsuit and was a guest on Good Morning America.

As an editor, public speaker, and seasoned professional, David has appeared on television and radio, and has lectured on the East Coast, California, Canada and Mexico.

David currently lives in Lexington, South Carolina with his wife, Trudy.

What’s All This about Telling and Not Showing?

Yeah, we hear a lot about showing the story and not telling it, but there doesn’t seem to be a bright line on exactly what that is. Of course, writing is art, not science, so many of the concepts are a bit skewed and subject to personal taste. But, I’ll try to share some of the feedback I’ve had from editors on this and hope it helps.

I’m currently helping another author with her manuscript, and she falls into a common trap of talking to the reader instead of writing to the reader. Part of my advice to her has been to use the Find tool in Word to search for sentence that start with phrases like, “I was, he was, she was, they were, it was” and then rethink those sentences. Perhaps the most famous example comes from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, when he said, “It was a dark and stormy night . . .” He is telling you it was dark and stormy, rather than describing the night.

There is a storm scene in Blood on the Pen, and I’ll use that as my example. Jack and Elsie are driving from Lockhart to Dallas, and they run into a storm. I could have said exactly that. “Jack and Elsie drove into a terrible storm on their way from Lockhart to Dallas.” Instead I borrowed the name Tess from the musical Paint Your Wagon and wrote, “Tess came in a heavy downpour, as Jack and Elsie drove back to Dallas. She tap danced on the windshield, splashed in the puddles along the side of the road, and rode on the shoulders of clouds with an arrogance only she possessed.” Here’s another way to show. The author with whom I am working now is writing in first person, and she has the habit of saying things like, “I gasped” or “I jumped when I heard his voice.” You don’t want to tell you reader that the character gasped. You want to make you reader gasp. So, the dialogue changes to, “A voice spoke from the darkness. Oh God, help me. Run, girl, run, but I couldn’t run.”

So, that is how I understand the concept, and I am only telling you what I’ve learned about it, but maybe I should show you.


  1. Yara, thanks for hosting a stop on David's tour. We appreciate your support of his murder mystery book and for sharing it with you blog readers.

    David, I think any aspiring writer who read the tips, advice and suggestions that you provided throughout your blog tour would have enriched their knowledge ten-fold. Great job!


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