Sunday, March 6, 2016

That Really Blows: How to Use a Hair Dryer to Save Your Heroine's Day (Show- Don't Tell)

English: Woman styling her hair with a blowdry...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia
"Show don't tell." Sigh. It's a ubiquitous phrase in edits. 

"How?" -- you might ask yourself -- "does a writer accomplish this?"  

Well, it's one thing to be told that a character is a resourceful, out-of-the-box thinker, and it's another for her to use her skills in her everyday life to illuminate the idea that she's capable. 

Some ways you might show that your heroine is ready, willing, and able are her clothing choices, the things she carries in her purse (that got kicked over and now she has to explain why she carries a Leatherman and a Swiss Army knife along with a chem-light), or her unusual uses for everyday items like the hairdryer.

Here are some creativity enhancers - ways that a heroine can show her moxy without you tapping out the words - "she was as smart as they come." Even if you follow that with a validating anecdote, you still wrote a "tell" instead of the reader discovering those attributes in the character for themselves.

Here's our intrepid heroine facing her plot points armed with a hairdryer:

  1. Remove stickers and labels
  2. She can also slip that old photo from it's album if she heats the back of the page with a hair dryer and carefully pries it off.
  3. Remove wax - heat with a dryer on high and then wipe off with a damp cloth
  4. Did your heroine find a secret message written on her mirror with a finger (the oils prevent the steam from adhering)? She can quickly hide it from other eyes by turning her hair dryer on the the steamed up surface.
  5. Did your villain just sneeze into their line of coke and get it all over the cushions or silk flowers? Disperse it and make it look fresh as new with the hair dryer set on low.
  6. Did your heroine get distracted while her hunky hunk was
    snogging with her? Now the kid she was babysitting for her boss just drew all over the walls with crayon. She can remove it with the blow dryer set to high.
  7. Bored? Why not have your heroine do an art project?
  8. WHAT?? Your heroine's BFF just found a clue get over there stat? But your heroine just finished her manicure! Quick - use the dryer to set the nails and go, girl! Go!
  9. Did your heroine find a major clue in the freezer, but it's stuck in the frost, and she can't remove it? Grab the hair dryer and heat until it's free.
  10. Did your heroine buy new shoes and they pinch? How is she going to get through the dance with hunky hunk? Before she goes, she can heat the shoes and stretch them out - just heat them for a minute or two, have her slide her feet in while they are hot and leave the shoes on until they have cooled.
  11. And just as it can streeeeeeeetch it can also shrink. Use a hair dryer to shrink plastic onto a bowl or gift basket.
  12. Your heroin got the phone call and she needs to fly to Paris NOW? Dry her toothbrush and loofah before she packs them with her blow dryer so they aren't gross when she gets there. 
  13. Can't get that baby to sleep? Your heroine knows the trick. She just runs the blow dryer on low until the baby is snoozing.
  14. Is your heroine's child freaking out about getting their band-aid off? Heat on low to help release the adhesive.
  15. And if the accident was worse and there's a limb in a cast, use the hair dryer on low to blow soothing powder like oatmeal into the cast.
  16. Your heroine's pantyhose are still a little damp from the wash and hang? Have her use the dryer to get them all the way dry - cause damp hose are bound to make her crotchety :)
  17. Your heroine left a water ring on her mother-in-law-to-be's prize Edwardian table? Find the hair dryer! Attach the nozzle attachment. Start on low then after a bit, she can start turning up the heat until it disappears (hopefully - fingers crossed).
  18. Is your heroine a fashionista? She can heat her eyelash curler with the hair dryer to get her lashes to comply with her efforts.
  19. Did you heroine's pipes freeze? Quick, before they burst - a hair dryer to the rescue.
  20. Take out a car dent. A two person deal - but your heroine can conceal that dent she just got in her dad's car :/  
  21. LOOSEN UP - jar lids, screws, a little heat can go a long way.
  22. Is your heroine having trouble focusing because her glasses
    keep slipping down her nose? Have her run to the ladies room and run the ear pieces under the heat and then put them back in place. Ta-da! A custom fit.
  23. Your heroine looks like she just wrestled a boa constrictor and is about to make a big presentation? Flick water on garment to make a fine mist and use hair dryer (sure the other women walking into the ladies' room are giving her a strange look for standing there in her undies - but hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's got to do.
  24. Get that cat hair etc. form off her keyboard. Point the nozzle sideways so she's not  pushing the hairs into the crevices.

Here's hoping your heroine's day doesn't blow! 

As always, a big thank you ThrillWriters and readers for stopping by. Thank you, too, for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Awesome ways to show, not tell. Who would have ever thought a hair dryer could be so useful?

  2. ha ha --- when I go somewhere, purse at hand, I have a keychain that turns into a handy close range weapon (doesn't look like it) have an innocuous brush that turns into a .. ahem .. knife ... has a spot for my Springfield. I sling the ten pound purse (j/k) over my other shoulder so nothing can be yanked away while I walk thru the parking lot with my hand ready if I need, and the keys in the other. if nothing else, my purse works great as a battering ram ... I'd like to know how to use one's makeup for impromptu fingerprinting ..