Friday, August 5, 2016

Showing or Telling: Don't bore the reader, entertain them

I have said that description is magic.

I have said that here.

But don't be too descriptive within the same paragraph where a character has said something otherwise it just gets so lengthy and you don't feel like reading it.

Such as,

"How are you?" Belome asked as he looked around the village, spotting his sister near the bakery waiting for her friend to come out. They have been so close ever since they found out they were born on the same day. He looked back to Velodis who hadn't heard him and was still mumbling something under his gray and white tangled beard that he constantly tugged at to get the snarls out but they always seemed to get all snarled up again no matter what he did. A village widow once told him to just cut it off but he had given her a glare of a refusal.

"How are you?" he said again, louder when Velodis looked up and glared as if to say he was not that old that he did not hear but he was just not in a very chatty mood. Velodis was known as the grumpy old man and you could tell it to his face or behind his back and it didn't matter because he knew all about it. Sometimes Belome wondered how he seemed to just know things even though it wasn't really on the breeze of Rumor.

See? Did you even read all that? It's so tiring isn't it? This descriptive mess is called "Telling".

I'm telling you (no pun intended if there even was one) all these details are normal and usual for the character to know without having to retell them to himself.

Do YOU think about everything in your family that is natural for you every single second?

"Hey, Mom, can I talk to you?" I asked my Mom who was getting ready for work. She doesn't like it that much actually but she seems to like it somewhat. She's a teacher but she wants more from that. She told me once that she wanted to get into the business field and do something more in her life. She's already over 50 and Dad is supporting her to do that.

UGH! Don't tell us all those details after you say something. I mean, WHO DOES THAT IRL?

Keep it to the minimum. I know that when we talk to people we do notice things or think things but time doesn't stop for us when we go into our personal monologue in our heads.

I can notice a billion things in a second but I don't have a whole recollection thinking session with myself.

In my story I had some sections like that when the MC will say something then I will tell the reader all the details of their traditions, religious practices, types of creatures that live there...and then I saw something somewhere, can't remember where, but it said,

Don't write in things that are normal to your character. Introduce them only when it becomes important and even then don't explain the details.

Also, and this is from many sources, TRUST YOUR READER.

Is your reader 5 years old or 13?

Don't explain so much in your story unless you ARE writing for a 5 year old.

When I see these long monologues, and I do see it in published books, I wonder what the other character is doing while the MC is thinking all these things and explaining it to themselves as though THEY are the reader who knows nothing.

If it is normal for the MC to be doing whatever, then it is strange for them to be thinking about it so much and having to explain it to themselves.

DON'T do this. Really. I went back to Chapter One of my novel and deleted all that nonsense, broke it up in little pieces, and worked it into different parts of the story when it was meaningful or necessary to even mention. I tried to get rid of as much unnecessary "Tells" and do as many "Shows" as I could.

The best way to do this is to imagine your story in movie form (which works for me and maybe it might for you, too).

We do not just pause at an actor's scene so that the actor could explain this ceremony and the ancient reasons for it, right? We don't get a specific explanation of anything but instead those details are woven throughout the film.

So, imagine that one day your novel or novella is gonna be turned into a movie...which will be so incredibly awesome :P

And, happy writing :D

I'm serious, don't tell.

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