1. 68000k
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    68000k New Member

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    Could someone give me some tips on "show, don't tell"?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by 68000k, Apr 2, 2010.

    I am going to be writing a fantasy story, out of what I feel is a necessity... It seems like the easiest way to get my point across to readers, or for my to exorcise my inner demons so to speak. The idea is this hero has become lazy, and no longer wants to save the world. He feels this time the threat is too much. He sits around at his home, doing hobbies, while monsters still terrorize the neighboring villages. He will turn on his TV, or read in his newspaper, or whatever, and he notices the monster is still killing people. Not too surprising. The whole idea of this story is supposed to be a demonstration of "Ignore the problem, the problem still exists." Not much will happen in the story on the surface. The underlying theme is supposed to be more subtle. This is where I'm running into a brick wall. I've not actually moved on past the brainstorming part here because I'm not sure how to continue. How do you effectively write a story without beating something into a reader's head? I'm not as talented as I want to be. Any ideas?
     
  2. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    All I can suggest is to write everything down, even the bits that make you cringe, or seem to slap the reader in the face its so obvious. Its only when you have everything on paper, you can decide what works and what doesn't, and then you can start developing, editing and refining.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A good story strikes a b alance between showing and telling. Going all out in either direction is not a good idea, although too much showing is rare releative to too much telling.

    This may help: Show and Tell
     
  4. Erskine
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    Erskine New Member

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    If I read that correctly, you are still brainstorming and little has been committed to paper. If that's the case, why not write the story and don't worry about how subtle the writing is or whether you are all tell and no show? It might be a lot easier to sculpt the work into the exact shape you want during the editing process rather than trying to create a perfect draft (which in theory is possible, I suppose, but I have never experienced it myself).

    Good luck,

    EB
     
  5. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    The only way to get more talented is to write, write, write.

    (Reading also helps.)

    Over time, you'll master the intricacies, including but not limited to showing and telling.

    Charlie
     
  6. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    What the Cog said.
     
  7. 68000k
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    68000k New Member

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    Alright. Works for me, I should just write it out first. That's always been one big problem for me and probably why I haven't written much in years. I want it perfect the first time, but I guess that's pretty unrealistic. I need to get over that fear of imperfection.

    Another big question though, I want to critique others' writing on here, I wanna be helpful, but I've never been too good at that, either. Are there general guidelines for critiquing posted somewhere on here? General things people want to get feedback on?
     
  8. MsMyth71
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    MsMyth71 Senior Member

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    The best thing to do, imho, when you are starting out on critique (and I'm not talking about guidelines for this forum, but critiquing in general), is to focus on 1-2 things in a piece. That was the best advice I ever received in undergrad.

    I usually read it once through for an initial response/reaction (and for fun).
    Then try reading it through looking only at character development (or POV or line-level material, voice, believability, etc).

    If you want to look at syntax/grammar, it's up to you. I don't really focus heavily on that as I will usually clean it all up during the revision process. Some folks enjoy having that kind of stuff pointed out, though.

    So, yeah. Pick a story and look at one element throughout. If you don't feel like you have enough feedback from that one element, go back and look again w/something else in mind.

    It was so incredibly hard for me to critique in the beginning, but you really only get better by doing it. That's where forums like this really can come in handy.

    I hope that helps. :)

    As for showing VS telling, try some dialogue exercises. For example, write dialogue between two characters where they are discussing something mundane like washing the dishes or folding laundry. Give them a "heavy" situation that's hanging over them (i.e. maybe they are a couple and one is having an affair and the other knows). Have them engage in this "mundane activity" and try to bring out the "heavier situation" without mentioning it at all. Does that make sense? Sometimes, it's fun to play around with subtext and how you can show the reader what's going on without actually saying it.

    I also agree that you can just write parts of the story, then go back to see where you can take an abstract idea or concept and make it more concrete.

    Also, read some poetry. The poets know how to throw a concrete/hard-as-nails image at you that shows you so much more than the abstract idea behind it. I mean, think about it. Let's say you have an abstract idea like Loneliness. Now, try to come up with a few concrete images that represent that: an empty dollhouse, a woman alone on the street corner, a deserted town. All are images that can convey loneliness, but when the author chooses one image to get his/her abstract idea across, it's far more vivid than just writing, "loneliness."

    Since poets are masters of choosing the perfect word(s), it might be something to look into. =)

    Good luck!
     

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