Friday, December 17, 2010

The balance of showing and telling

One of the prerequisites of a writer is to show and not tell a story. Showing is the way or style in which writers, write a story that enables the readers, experience the story's entity which is a mix of the characters' actions, emotions rather than narrating the story's exposition, summarization and description.

This especially applies to all genres of fiction.

For instance, you want to write about Nellie stopping by a park to take some flowers home. What do you write? Do you write: And Nellie stops by National Park and reaches for some dandelions and trudges home. OR Nellie strolled through the cobbled steps of the National Park, the air blowing the long tresses of her chestnut coloured hair. She stops to pick a few dandelions in her view. Taking a quick sniff, she inhales the sweet, natural scent of the flowers. It makes her smile. With this feel-good charm, she skips on home.

Showing helps readers connect to the story's characters, thus making them sympathetic to these characters, which in turn makes the story believable. I wonder if the Spartacus series had been culled from a book, it would have made for an interesting read with its descriptive accounts.

The downside (bummer!) of showing is that your readers will get exhausted with the incessant and unnecessary aspects of describing every single inherent detail. They will lose interest. The book would also be too bulky with the extra word counts of these descriptions. Everything shouldn't be acted out as some scenes should be skipped. E.g. a xter is sleeping on the bed. Do you say, the xter is comfy in the king-sized 50 feet by 50 feet bed, in a side ways position on the journey to snooze-ville. BORING! Personally, i would smack the author with the book.

Telling is very useful as a shortcut to get to the juicy part(s) of the story. It also covers a greater span of time more concisely.

The objective is to merge and balance showing and telling or show,tell to get the right rhythm, pace and tone.

Frankie Diane Mallis is having a No Kiss Blogfest on the 2nd of January. Here's the link.

1 comment:

  1. showing does not necessarily mean you have to explain every minute detail.
    example you want to say something made her angry and instead of saying his words pissed her off (telling) to show her anger you can have her kick a table or slam the door (both convey her anger without you telling us she is angry we can feel her anger).
    Show vs Tell is an ongoing process and we all have problems with it.


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