Greetings Fellow Readers! Welcome to another round of random ranting. This week is Part 3 of my Thoughts on Writing Facebook posts. This is the second half on my thoughts on 'Show, Don't Tell'. I really did have a lot on my mind regarding this. So let us continue. Also forgive the font sizes, Word is pretty weird when copy and pasting.
[On Show, Don't Tell - Part 2
The way I see it, in narrative writing, Show and Tell should co-exist. I look at them as two polar extremes and there is a middle ground to them. Show in narrative writing is as much a double edged sword as Telling is. Too much showing and readers burn out. Showing can also lead to redundant writing repeating the same thing over and over again. I have noticed this in some of my writings. I wonder if you have as well. Showing results in readers either skip pages that could be important or quit because the writing is not getting to the point. This is where Telling should be applied.
Telling should be used to get to the point of what your saying to the reader. Quick, brief, and moving forward. However too much Telling will turn off the readers as well. Either by way of making readers feel stupid because you point out the obvious, or cheapen a dynamic moment that would have otherwise been more impactful to the story. So this brings the question, how does one Show and Tell in narrative writing?
Honestly, I don't know. It's because we have our own style of writing, a comfort zone that we are accustomed too. In a sense, I believe that each of us writers will know when to Show and when to Tell. It's usually happens when we start second drafting our work. We'll know what has more impact and what needs to move along. We'll just know it when we see it. Now what about teaching Show, Don't Tell? To tell a narrative writer that Showing is the only thing to do in writing is wrong. It's not the same as Comic Books and Movies, that is where Show, Don't Tell should be applied.
To say Show, Don't Tell in narrative writing is basically saying "reject Telling, Showing is the only and absolute thing". And the last I checked we narrative fiction writers are Storytellers not Storyshowers. We are telling a story through text to words. We can't show what we describe in our words. The readers have to interpret and imagine it on their own. No two readers, imagine the same character, no matter how much we show. What we should say to future narrative writers is to Show and Tell. A good balance of Show and Tell will give readers a beautiful world Shown at consistent pace Told.
Let me sum it up like this, if you Tell a reader "John hopped into the car." The reader knows what a car is and can imagine it. It also helps move the story along. If you Show a reader "John jumped into the red car, with its leather interior and clean glass. The smell of new wafted in his nose. The softness of the cushions relaxed his muscles." There better be a reason for showing all of that later in the story, be it character development or plot development, because if it was just to "Show" the car due to Show, Don't Tell, you just wrote needless words.]
So ends my thoughts on 'Show, Don't Tell'. Next week we're going to revisit Foreshadowing again with the Facebook version. A good chance to see how all of those thoughts changed from then to now, even though it is a short time.
Thank you for joining me this week. Look forward to seeing you next week.
Until next time...