Matthew 17:20, my favorite verse. "... If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Show vs Tell

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the phrase, show v/s tell. I believe that's true in more than just writing. I learn more easily if I can be shown by example. Tell me what you want me to do then show me. Following is some helpful advice I received from Jennette Green, author of Her Reluctant Bodyguard (awesome book, by the way. I highly recommend it.) She's recommending changes for an earlier version of Abandoned Hearts.

First of all, some of the wording and phrasing of the sentences are stiff, and words are used that people wouldn’t normally use in everyday conversations. Sometimes, as a result, it feels as though I’m wading through the words, and it also feels like things are being told to me, as a reader. I’d rather have them shown…the clich├ęd “show vs. tell.”

1.  What is the purpose for each scene?

What does the character want?  How will she/he get or fail to gain her goal? How will she try harder to gain it?

What is the goal/problem at the end of the scene, which leads into the next scene(s)?

2.  It is not necessary to detail every little thing that the characters do, as it slows down the narrative.  Such as:

“She turned on the faucet and filled the glass…”

3.  As mentioned above, some of the sentence phrasing feels stiff and unnatural. More relaxed word choices would flow better.  A few examples:

“…floor to unrelenting”  could change “unrelenting” to “hard”

 “He hadn’t changed his clothes…” (then goes on to describe how they’re the same clothes he’d changed into earlier)  Instead, could say, “He wore the same clothes that…”

“Ann peered down the hall to reassure herself no one was there…” Perhaps could change to: “Ann peered down the hall to make sure no one was there…”

Hopefully this will help those of you who battle the whole show v/s tell issue and also the ill fated habit of over detailing, which causes your reader to skim. And as writers, we don't want that!

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