1. Rob40
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    Rob40 Active Member

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    show vs. tell with a dead guy

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rob40, Feb 4, 2016.

    A flash short piece I've worked over a few times has a dead guy put prominently in the first two-thirds. The problem is that you don't know it's a dead guy until the twist in the last third. I'ts in first person. Protagonist talks about him, falls for him, (I seem to write a bit dark, who knew!) but what strikes the reader is that it bumps up against that rule of thumb where the protagonist interaction with anyone else should be a showing of interaction and not telling. She talks about things and he does nothing at all. In the end the reader gets it, but until then it just feels unbalanced and incorrect. I don't want that feeling. He's dead and I don't want the reader to know that until the end. How can I approach this moment of interaction with a dead guy without letting on at all? I can't talk about the past with him, there isn't one between them. I can't just tell, I need to show. Would changing to a third person perspective work easier for this? In the first two-thirds, it's just her and him. Ideas?
     
  2. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    When describing what the dead guy "does" use words that could describe both the living and the dead. Such as "I dragged him along." "He stared back at me." "His hand fell onto mine." Just an idea...
     
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  3. Rob40
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    Rob40 Active Member

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    Good points. that would help in a tactful approach to steer the assumptions. Thank you.
     
  4. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    If a dead person's hand fell onto your own it would feel unnaturally cold unless they just died or the room was very warm. One thing we don't know is the entire time frame for the novel, is it just minutes or more like hours? Also could this story be similar to "Psycho" where the son has just lost it and in his mind thinks his mother is still alive?
     
  5. Cattlebruiser
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    Cattlebruiser Member

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    Interesting...
    Want to hear more, heh.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's flash fiction, I think it should work fine - focus on the living character, on her reactions, etc.

    "She searched his face for understanding, but found none. Of course he didn't understand - how could he? How could anyone?" etc.
     
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  7. Rob40
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    Rob40 Active Member

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    tonguetied: It's flash and takes place in two brief moments. One of reflection and then then she takes him' somewhere for the next moment wher the twist takes place. Both brief and both with the body cold, but, freshly cold.

    BayView: I understand the approach you mean. Vague and direct in a way. Something like this is a good exercise.
     

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