Understanding Show, Don’t Tell And Really Getting It
How much do I want to read more? 7/10
The interesting part is analysing the text you write so that it produces a seemlingly experience to the reader.
Welcome to Understanding Show Don't Tell (And Really Getting It)
I can’t tell you how many published novels I analyzed, and how many manuscripts I studied, or how many sentences I tore apart to figure out how they worked.
I discovered that told prose often included the same words, or the same types of words. I created lists of these “red flag words”
It wasn’t long before I instinctively stayed away from those words in a first draft.
To save you all that effort, I’ve collected what I’ve learned
What Show, Don't Tell Really Means
- Writing with strong nouns and verbs to dramatize a scene
- Using the senses to enable the reader to experience what the point-of-view character experiences
- Dramatizing scenes versus explaining them
- I reached over to pick up the cup.
you can show the observable results of intention. uddenly this same sentence shows instead of tells.
- I reached over and picked up the cup.
- “I hate you,” I said angrily.
- “I hate you,” I yelled, kicking the door closed.
(We don’t typically think in adverbs, which is why they tend to stand out.)
- I walked slowly across the room.
“Slowly” has a physical connotation in our minds, so even though it’s an adverb, it conveys a real action. We can imagine what walking slowly looks like. But look closer—when you “walk slowly across the room,” exactly what do you do?
Even though you can “walk slowly” and be understood by your readers, the actual action can be any number of walking styles.
There are times when a little telling is better than a drawn-out show, and readers don’t need to see every little action dramatized.
A common rule of thumb: As long as it feels like the character is thinking it, you’re usually okay. But as soon as it sounds like the author butting in to explain things, you’ve probably fallen into telling.
Dramatize the action and make readers feel in the moment, right there with the character as the story unfolds. Use language and details to describe what a person physically and mentally does or feels, and don’t explain what they did, thought, or felt.
What Show, Don’t Tell Doesn’t Mean
It’s letting readers see what’s going on—not explaining what happened—using language that fits your story.
Do You Always Have to Show?
pick ten random books off the bestseller list and look at the wide variety of prose styles used. Some will be tight first-person points of view; others with be omniscient narrators who know and see all.
The Problems With Telling
A hundred years ago, books were filled with told prose and heavy passages of description.