I have trouble with show and tell. Writer's Circle Newsletter # 115 02-23-04
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I have learned so much by doing these newsletters. Iâ€™ve had to dig and search for ideas and I enjoy it very much. This week though, has been so busy I havenâ€™t had time to do justice to a letter. I will do what I can though, so bear with me. Iâ€™m trying.
I have trouble with show donâ€™t tell, as anyone can see if they read any of my stories. Iâ€™m getting there, and at least I know what to look for now.
I borrowed this article from:
Children's Book Insider by Laura Backes,
The following are words which, if used in excess, will cause writing to feel flat. While thesewords can't be eliminated entirely, often they can be replaced with more creative choices.
Really, very, all, big, little, many, some and "a lot" are overused and don't add much to a sentence. The trick with descriptions is to find the exact word or phrase that will paint a picture in your reader's mind. "Uncle Bill was very tall" does not give the reader any valuable information. But if you provide a point of reference, the reader can visualize Uncle Bill's height: "Uncle Bill was so tall that when Jessie stood on a chair she could barely see his whiskers." This not only tells the reader exactly how tall Uncle Bill was, but it also mentions another physical element--his whiskers--which makes him more interesting.
Sometimes eliminating the quantifier will make the sentence more powerful. "Sara stood at the bus stop. She was very cold." The word very is not necessary and delays the reader from getting to the essence of the sentence, which is that Sara is cold.
*Telling Instead of Showing
"Like", "as if" and "seemed" can make writing sound passive instead of active. "Tom picked up the puppy, who seemed as if she was afraid."
This is lazy writing, because the author relies on the reader to fill in what "afraid" means. "The puppy was curled up in a corner of the sofa. When Tom picked her up, she let out a soft whimper. He could feel her trembling as he held her close to his chest." By giving concrete details, the author shows the reader exactly how this puppy acts when she is afraid.
One word many authors rely too heavily upon is "felt". How a character feels should be evident from the surrounding text and dialogue. If the author has to tell the reader that Max feels happy, then the rest of the text is not working as hard as it should be. Show how Max is happy (maybe he's turning cartwheels on his way home from school), and let the reader draw his own conclusions.
Next week's editor will be Alex Elizabeth
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Edited by: esprit
Rate this newsletter here: "Show and Tell"