|Short Stories: January 25, 2023 Issue [#11773]|
This week: Show me so that I can see and feel it! Edited by: Lilli ☕️ 🧿
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|‘Show, don’t tell’ is valuable advice for every writer. Perhaps even more so for the short story writer. The limited word count in a short story means our writing has to work a bit harder. Let’s look at how we achieve it in Part One of this mini-series.|
| Why we should show, not tell|
‘Showing’ brings our stories to life. It helps the characters jump off the page, allowing readers to connect with the stories much faster. When we ‘show’, our readers take part in the scene. When we ‘tell’, they only observe the scene.
Example - Telling
It was a dark and stormy night. The shutters were flapping in the wind. The noise woke the man. He looked out the window at the harbor. The wind was blowing, and the boats were at its mercy.
Example - Showing:
It was the slap-bang-slap of the shutters that woke him. The howling wind had tugged them loose. He slid the window up and tried to grab at the swinging shutters, but the wind grabbed it back.
”We’ll have to get it from the outside,” Marc said behind him. “Dad’s already on his way down to secure the moorings. The boat has come undone.”He tried to reach the shutter again, but the wind held it back. “Dammit.” He grabbed his slicker and followed his brother.
As they made their way down the path, the rain hit them, stinging their face. The swell was huge, and the waves crashed with merciless abandon. The boat hit the jetty with another thud and something splintered.
A closer look...
In the ‘telling’ example, there is more distance between the reader and the story. The reader is told what's happening but not provided the opportunity to feel the urgency, tension, or fear.
In the ‘showing’ example, we know very little about the brothers and their relationship with their father, but their actions are more emotional and specific.
Choosing a viewpoint character will help you to focus your writing.
In the telling example, we’re being told what the weather was like. In the showing example, we can almost feel it. Try to avoid using the words see, hear, feel, smell, and touch.
Be specific with descriptions; layering them for emphasis.
Try to avoid using 'telling' words. If you find yourself using words like 'was', ‘were’, ‘is’, ‘are’, ‘have’, and ‘had’ - you might be telling.
Words such as ‘appeared’, ‘wondered’, ‘decided’, and ‘seemed’, make us ‘tell’. Instead, try Using strong verbs like tugged, grabbed, peered, pelted, picked, and crashed. Can you feel the difference?
Dialogue helps! As soon as characters start speaking, they come alive. Remember dialogue includes the words spoken aloud, internal thoughts, body language and expressions, and dialogue tags.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next time!
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|Comments from my last Short Story Newsletter, "And the beat goes on..." :|
"Thank you to the writers who submitted these comments. It does not hurt to review the points given here. My main mistake is that sometimes I am in a hurry and do not reread the work. Because of this, I do not catch simple errors that other readers do catch. Careful people do reread and focus. If there is a deadline coming up, then one must give yourself plenty of time. Good work takes time. That also includes reading and editing their work. It might make a difference between first place or no place at all. That is what you want, right?"
"Nothing like starting things off with a chuckle, or sigh."
~ BIG BAD WOLF Feels Lucky
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