How to apply show don't tell principle and adjust the pace of the story
| The reader of today, because he is so strongly conditioned by the movies and television, loses his interest in a novel or short story easily when the narrative drones on and on. To keep the interest of the reader, the writer needs to insert motion into his storytelling.|
This means not just the characters but also the narrative need to move with action producing words and sentences, as the expository parts of the work create momentum and evade flatness and boredom. To start with, the show, don't tell principle has to be at work here, as trite as it may sound.
Then, since even the trite principles need an explanation, here are a few examples to showing instead of telling.
* She was bored -- is better shown as -- Yawning, she tapped her fingers on the desktop and looked away.
* She was shy -- is better shown as -- Blushing, she shrunk from being touched or looked at and said very few words with an almost inaudible voice.
* He knew she was nice to her children -- is better shown as -- He always caught sight of her as she pushed the baby in the stroller while trying to hang on to the toddler's hand. Her children, with robust faces, cooed and smiled at their mother.
* He imagines he is going to win the boxing match -- is better shown as -- He imagines himself grinning with delight and waving at the crowd amid a thunderous roar of cheers, as the referee holds his gloved hand high.
To a novice writer, the skill with Show, don't tell will come after a lot of practice. A practical exercise is to take an already written piece and circle all the sentences that can benefit from being shown and then re-writing the whole piece.
Another useful way for the writer to find out if he is telling instead of showing is to circle all the adjectives and adverbs in his story. Afterwards, he can try to replace what is in those circles with dynamic verbs and sensory phrases that draw vivid pictures.
To create motion, the pace of the scenes should be taken into consideration. Sometimes fluctuating the pace from one scene to another creates additional motion, variety, or interest, but the change of pace between the scenes must not disregard the overall pace of the work. The change from scene to scene must be eased in smoothly.
The genre of the story--usually--determines the right pace. A thriller, for example, will have faster scenes than a romance story. In addition, for faster scenes, the actions and the speech of the characters as well as the sentences need to be shorter in length to impart a feeling of vigor and immediacy.
Creating motion in a narrative will improve the effectiveness in the style of a writer; therefore, it is well worth the effort to practice, review, and re-write in order to carry one's craft forward.