[On Show, Don't Tell - Part 1
I spent a good week thinking about what to say for this topic, because I know this is something that is taught by professors in schools. It is something many writers stress over and over, and some editors expect. And for the most part I do agree about Show, Don't Tell... when used in Comics Books, Movies, Television, and Stage, but not in Narrative Writing and here's why...
Comic Books, Movies, TV, and Stage has visual illustrations. Something for us to see with our own eyes. For a character or narrator to tell us what we are actually seeing, makes zero sense and really takes the audience out of the story. So yes, Show, Don't Tell in these mediums should be applied without question. So why not Narrative Writing?
Because there are no physical illustrations to show what our words in text says. Our words in our stories are supposed to trigger our readers mind to develop visual illustrations in their own minds. Our readers interpret what we wrote in text into their own imaginations. However, the human mind can only take so much input from our text that to Show can burn them out. This is what I learned when I first introduced Arcana Magi Zero Vol.1 in Fictionaut 2009.
If you read the opening paragraphs, there is a lot of Show. Stretching for a long time. I received a comment a reader in Fictionaut who said that once they got to the transformation part, they quit reading. I looked over it and realized that I showed way too much creating a wall of details that was overwhelming. This was because I heeded the advice of Show, Don't Tell. I also recognized this in 'Chain + Fate' when I was final drafting it before releasing it. I detailed way too much of the characters traveling from the park to the train station.
It was overwhelming and unneeded. It didn't serve the plot whatsoever. I remembered the first advice given in Strunk and White's Elements of Style, 'Omit Needless Words'. That's what I found Show in narrative writing to be. Needless words. That's not to say Telling is any better. After as I have stated last week, my stories may come off as a laundry list and that is due to Telling sometimes.]
So that is first five posts, next will be the conclusion of Show Don't Tell, then in two weeks will be On Foreshadowing.
Well, thank you for joining me this week. You all enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving in America. And don't forget to pick up your free Copy of 'Shell' This Friday on Kindle.
Until Next Time...