1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    When to Show and Tell

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MilesTro, Aug 27, 2012.

    They say you should only show, don't tell. However I think that most authors show and tell. In their books, they tell a lot of background information to add depth to the setting and characters. And they show what the environments look like, how the characters feel, and what the characters are doing. This is what I think, but it is confusing to me to figure out when I should show and tell in my books.
     
  2. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    There's already a handful of topics here on Show and Tell, most recently this one: http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=55178

    Maybe you can have a look there.
     
  3. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Okay I will check it out.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    There's a mixture of show and tell. It's never all or nothing. But there is no real trick to know when one is
    preferable over the other. It's a knack you learn by constant reading and writing.

    The most trouble caused by telling is when the writer makes assumptions for the reader without
    allowing the reader to come to the conclusion himself.

    Think of yourself as an observer - watching a stranger in a restaurant - if you
    come to the conclusion that this stranger is sad or angry - how did you
    come to it? - you're not a mind reader, he's not wearing a label. You
    observed his expressions, body language, his reactions to his
    wife, you're overheard his conversation. And then you
    come to the conclusion that the person is sad or angry - you
    don't even have to say it out loud. You know it. That's what
    a writer has to do. Create an atmosphere, a scene in which
    the reader can make up his own mind as to what's going on
    without you taking away the fun by summing up -
    he's angry.

    Telling can be used inbetween scenes, fill in backstory,
    sum up a minor character. And in especially in conversation.
     
  5. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    What if my readers get the wrong idea of what my characters are doing? Like I describe that my character is being sad, but the readers think he or she is being angry.
     
  6. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    If described right, and the mix of showing, and telling, are correct, then there shouldn't be a problem with the reader understanding how the character feels.
     

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