Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Show vs. Tell

I freely admit that there are plenty of rules to writing that I struggle with, but the one that gives me the most trouble has to be the rule, "Show, don't tell." So I am certainly not qualified to write, blog, or offer advice on the topic.


I have been paying attention to my dear author friends, took some great notes at the LDStorymakers conference on the topic, and have learned from my notes I have gotten back from my critiques and this is what I have learned...

First of all we know that telling a reader gives them know room for their imagination to grow. Everything is there in black and white.

Showing a reader is planting clues, giving evidence, trusting the reader to figure things out for themselves.

If you were to take a friend and blindfold them, what would you tell them? In the setting of your story, you need to put us there as if we were blindfolded.

When writing about thoughts and emotions, rather than telling us the persons emotions show us through action.

Be specific in description. Rather than saying "a car" write "a blue Mercedes" or rather than say the man was tall, say, "He had to duck through the doorway as he entered the room."

Using good description is essential but it's just as important to recognize bad description. Bad description is description that serves no purpose. It will kill the scene and makes the reader want to skip down to the next important bit of information pertaining to the story. (I've done that when I've read a book-- have you? You want to skip to the good stuff that really matters!)

You want to slim down your description to what really matters. What details would your POV character notice? Why? What is the most important for the reader to know? Why? You don't want to mess up your pacing and interfere with your story.

Remember to add details that pack a punch. POV characters don't usually notice the little things that are familiar to them, so change something. Force them to notice something when creating your scene.

Last of all: Make each word count.

These are all things I need to work on. I tend to "Tell" more than "Show"and I wonder if I will ever master this rule.

I do appreciate that I have so many to learn from. I want to be sure to acknowledge Annette Lyon and Sarah Eden. I used some of my notes from their classes from the writers conference for this blog.

I especially want to acknowledge Kerry Blair, Stephanie Black, Sian Bessey, and all the other ladies on this blog for their fine examples of writing as they continually teach me the right way to write. It's been a long process for me to learn and I still have a long way to go, but it's these ladies that make the journey such an incredible ride. It's an honor and a blessing to call each of them my friends.

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