Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Show, Not Tell

As a writer you need to ensure that you are "showing" your story and not simply "telling" it. I have always known this but recently I was quite concerned to discover that my WIP has a lot of telling and not enough showing.

For example:

Kat was angry. They couldn't do that to her. "I haven't done anything wrong!"

This is how I have corrected it:

Kat's hand began shaking uncontrollably and she had to ball them into fists to steady herself. The members of parliament studied her, some in pity and others in disgust, none of them aware that a raging heat was building up inside of her, wanting to lash out at them.

My second version seems to be a lot better than my first one and I think you really get a sense of what Kat is struggling with internally (at least that's what I'm hoping). When I make my changes, I will try and make sure that my characters are using their senses. I want to make sure you feel what they are feeling, whether it is sight, sound or emotion.

It takes some thought to make up original ways to describe what your characters are experiencing. There are certainly some cliches you can fall into like "sweating palms" and "racing heartbeat" to show anxiety or fear. You want your characters to be different but feel familiar to readers and it's definitely a tough job!

Question: Have you experienced any moments of "telling" instead of "showing" in your own work?

1 comment:

  1. Experimenting is what I'm all about. And re-writing is my middle name. Glad to see you doing the same.


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