General / Writing

Showing vs Telling: A One Step Method to Make it Make Sense

Showing vs Telling. We’ve all heard those damning words tossed around like a basic tenant of writing.

And hell if I could make heads or tales of what it actually meant.

That’s because no one was explaining it clearly. No one broke it down to a summary. I struggled through dense ramblings, hundreds of blogs, and a dozen technical manuals.

Think about a movie. Any movie. Doesn’t matter.

Now think of the opening scene of that movie. did it have a blank screen and a ten minute monologue? Do you really need me to answer that?

They show it to you. They don’t tell you Avery is a 26 year old woman who loves to hunt. They show you footprints in the snow. Avery’s fist as it closes on the bow at her side.

“But what’s the science behind that, M?” No worries, guys, I got you.

Humans don’t need to be told a barstool and a recliner are both chairs. We extrapolate that from experience. Do I sit my ass on it in a seated position, back straight without laying down? Ok, probably a chair.

Your readers aren’t two. They have object permanence, and, for a while at least, walk on two, steady legs. Paint a picture for them and know that they’ll figure it out.

I mean, how many fandoms come up with complex theories based on one detail from that one scene in an episode four years ago? (I’m looking at you Sherlockians) If they want it, they’ll find it.

Keep Writing, Lovelies


Main Reference:

Gerke, Jeff. The First 50 Pages. 110.

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January 10, 2019