Show AND Tell: A Beginning Writers Discovery

Jump right in, just go with the flow! Advice that I have heard from other writers, as well as just a generalization about my MO (modus operandi). Unfortunately, my creative process is a bit more outlined. It’s my style, so bear with me while I make observations and have those AH HA! moments that turn my gears.

More than once I have taken a class that outlines the show, don’t tell style of writing. In other words, when writing a scene, you want to show that the character is having an emotion using multiples senses, rather than just coming out and saying it.

Example of telling: The break up was devastating.

Example of showing: Her hands withdrew from her face, hot tears continued to fall, and her body shuddered uncontrollably. She ached to feel his attention just one more time, but knew in her heart it was impossible.

This is my attempt to draw in the reader by showing my character’s actions and senses. While I think the show, don’t tell method is a solid one, there are two things that make me withdraw from it. Some authors can go overboard, going into too much detail causing me to lose interest. While other authors aren’t clear enough and I’m not sure the emotion they are trying to portray. This leaves me guessing.

Here it is, my AH HA! moment. There is a perfect combination of showing and telling together. At least this is what I thought last night while reading Kristen Hannah’s new book, The Great Alone (which is a great read. I’m not finished so no spoilers). I felt like she was doing a little of both, which helped clarify some things that were happening. So maybe we do something more like this:

Example of showing AND telling: Her hands withdrew from her face, hot tears continued to fall, and her body shuddered uncontrollably. She ached to feel his attention just one more time, but knew in her heart it was impossible. The break up was devastating and sorrow swallowed her whole.

Maybe it wasn’t apparent enough that she was devastatingly sad, so I’m just going to add it: she was devastated and sad. I don’t want people to think she was angry here.

Just me, writing about writing. I could be totally off here, but I like how it feels. Enjoy this knowledge I have bestowed upon you, if it’s helpful.

 

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