1. ItalianCri

    ItalianCri Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2019
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    28

    Characters' thoughts and ''Show, don't tell''.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ItalianCri, Oct 27, 2020.

    Here I'm again. How are you? I hope good between a pandemic wave and another. I'm from Italy but I'm still alive. Well, writing is a fantastic way to maintain mental health. So, I have doubts about ''Show, don't tell''. I speak about a third person story with an external narrator. Actions and dialogue are the best way to use this rule, but what about characters' thoughts? A rigid ‘’show, don’t tell’’ is like recording a scene with a cam: the narrator follows the action of the PoV character. So, is unnatural for the narrator came into characters’ mind to describe their thought, isn’t it? The narrator could only describe what is external and objective. It could be different if the story is in first person. What do you think?
     
  2. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2019
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Joliet, IL
    This is one of the reasons I find it "easier" (sometimes anyway) to write in first person. It can be, in my opinion, a bit more natural to show what the character is seeing/feeling/thinking when you're writing from their perspective. I think my next collection will have much more first person stories in it for this reason.

    When writing third person, you can still show of course. But in my recent book I kept running into the trap of either rambling on with too much detail and slowing the pace, or worse (and I was pulling my hair out here), when I was thinking I was showing but I was actually telling instead. I think it's something that every writer will struggle with, at least to some degree, and also why professional edits are so valuable.
     
    OurJud and ItalianCri like this.
  3. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2020
    Messages:
    326
    Likes Received:
    356
    The point, as I understand it, of show don't tell is to make the story as immersive as possible. Being privy to the PoV's thoughts can help with immersion, so avoiding it all together is probably not what is best for the story.

    One of the strengths of books as a medium is the ability to get inside the head of the character. There is the third person objective PoV which is the detached camera perspective, but in my opinion if the story is being told from a camera perspective it would probably work better to be a movie or show than a book. However if that is the style you've chosen, then you should stick to the limitations of that style. Swapping PoV styles mid-book can be jarring to readers and potentially hurt that ever-important immersion.

    Do note that I tend to gravitate towards third person deep in my own writing, and third person objective is not to my taste, so I might be underestimating its advantages.
     
    ItalianCri likes this.
  4. ItalianCri

    ItalianCri Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2019
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    28
    Actually, I think told parts have their importance :D But sometimes I notice a ''witches hunting'' against those writers who use them. So, my doubts are about the rule in general, because I think it has limitations, e.g. characters' thoughts.

    I know, movies and books are different media. In-fact, during a film there could be a voice off with the intrusion of the character who can explain his feeling and thoughts. So, the neutral cam could fall also there :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2020
    Seven Crowns likes this.
  5. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    9,327
    Likes Received:
    9,602
    Location:
    England
    You're the first person I've seen who shares my opinion on perspective. I've tried to explain how I find writing in first so much easier and naturalistic, but few seem to get it. I've tried third and just can't do it.
     
    Damage718 and ItalianCri like this.
  6. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2019
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Joliet, IL
    Yeah, there are challenges with both POV's, but to me, third can be a bit awkward. I can do third, but it feels less natural and for some reason I have a tendency to over-narrate and tell more than show. In first person, it's a LITTLE easier because I can close my eyes and pretend I'm the character and describe what "I" experience.
     
    ItalianCri and OurJud like this.
  7. Aceldama

    Aceldama free servant

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2019
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    285
    Currently Reading::
    1984
    I prefer writing in 3rd person omniscient as I have more control over what I want the reader to know and the direction of the desired effect I'm aiming for in the chapter and ultimately the story as a whole. I guess it comes down to preference as I find first person limiting. Im unable to write in first person.

    Still, you DO have to show for any story in any perspective and I enjoy writing the action and dialogue to the context I established.
     
    ItalianCri likes this.
  8. Lazaares

    Lazaares Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2020
    Messages:
    545
    Likes Received:
    684
    Location:
    Europe
    Up to your audience. A mature audience may appreciate the challenge to decipher thoughts and mood based on verbal and nonverbal cues, if your description game is brief & on point. That's my preference as a reader. Of course, this doesn't help much if you want to convey a complex thought.
     
    ItalianCri likes this.
  9. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2020
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    219
    The way I view point of view is to think of it as a factory.

    If I am writing about a very introspective story such as a person is working in a factory and has a love interest with her boss, then it would be better to be first person point of view because the focus is more on the thoughts and actions of characters acting WITHIN the confines of that factory. In other words it is limited in size and scope, and the emotions are more intense.

    But if the story involves the woman and her lover-boss finding out the factory is secretly making bomb munitions for the mob, then I would go with a third person perspective because it is going to take a much broader scope for the reader to see everything that is going on in that factory. I can still get those emotional feelings in, but I am not self-limited by a single perspective about all the details about how those bombs are secretly being made.

    Writing in the second person point of view is the most challenging for a writer, but like most things in life, if pulled off correctly it has high impact. If written poorly, it sounds cheesy. The key to this one is really narrowing your reader-audience, and knowing them well. I say that because as a writer I have to convince YOU that what I say is true. That takes details, but it is a two edged sword because if I give you details about you that are not true, instantly you think, "I would never think or act like that", and so the whole story is dismissed. This perspective is best done with short stories, only because it is really hard to pull off. Can a writer really hit all the details in an 80,000 word novel? To go back to my factory analogy, second person point of view would most likely be a shorter story, probably erotica if I am honest, where the woman and her boss have a tryst. A short, intense scene where I am writing a very targeted story for someone I know well.

    (Note: I spent extra time on second person point of view, only because it may be a foreign point of view concept for new writers and I wanted to explain what it was. It is not a point of view I write a lot).
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice