Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Questions on a writer’s life

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Today, I made a guest appearance on Austin Comacho’s blog.  I answered five questions about the writer’s life.  The questions were posted by a student.

Check it out here

New Writing Contest

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Visual Arts Junction has announced the next writing contest.  The deadline is June 30, 2010. Go here for a complete set of contest rules.

Show, Don’t Tell

Friday, February 26th, 2010

This is a writing maxim that often surfaces in critiques.  Many inexperienced writers carry the show to extremes.  Having seen the “show don’t tell” admonition in every book on fiction writing, they assume that every instance of telling is wrong.  The reality is that every story is a combination of showing and telling. BABS coverWhile showing is a must for action scenes, telling is useful for compressing time and space.  Description is usually telling.  So is all exposition.  Both description and exposition are necessary ingredients in every story.  Taking the SDT principle to its extreme usage, the story will degenerate into a series of trivial actions.  A few simple examples will clarify this issue:

Telling:

Janet took a shower.

Showing:

Janet went into the bathroom, stripped, turned on the water and adjusted the temperature.  She stepped in and allowed the water to flow over her body and hair.  She squeezed shampoo into her hand and washed her hair . . . This is showing, but to what purpose?  What reader will want to be ’shown’ Janet taking the shower when there are more important and interesting events waiting to be revealed.  The telling took four words.  The showing took thirty-eight and counting.  While the longer example satisfies the SDT rule, it is dull.

As you can see from the example, telling advances the story without bogging it down in trivia.

This brief essay is taken from my Build a Better Story ebook on fiction writing.  It’s scheduled to be released in March, 2010.