25 July 2012 - SHOW, DON'T TELL

Quote of the day:

"To try where there is little hope is to risk failure.

Not to try at all is to guarantee it."

Writing tip of the day:

G'day guys,

Mm ... here is a subject that has driven writers and publishers crackers - show, don't tell. Lee Child once made a  very reasonable comment, “We’re not story showers,” Child said. “We’re story tellers.” ... "Do your kids ever ask you to show them a story? They ask you to tell them a story. Do you show a joke? No, you tell it."

I guess I've always had a few simple rules: write for your reader, cut to the chase and keep things moving - mentally or physically. Your readers are your clients. What would they want to read? The answer to that is simple; something that is engaging - a page-flipping book they can't put down. Here are a few ideas that might help. some of them I have mentioned before, but they are important for your reader to stay engaged in your work:

1. Conflict - resolution, conflict - resolution etc.

2. Keep throwing different complications in that the reader will figure out later. I call them 'Sharks'.

3. Kick some ass and give your reader some action.

4. Show via the characters action, speech, facial expressions, body language, movement, appearance. Example, "Bill creaked when he raised his arthritic arms above his eighty-year-old body.'

5. Don't forget: the senses - sight, smell, sounds, and weather, height, colour, shape etc.

6. Keep the reader in suspense.

7. Give important scenes through action and dialogue.

8. Don't waffle. If it doesn't add to the story, cut, cut, cut. Don't clutter your story with too much detail and description.

9. Dialogue has to be crisp, sharp and pointed to be effective.

10. Do not tell the reader everything. They will work it out.

11. Avoid long sentences. Streamline them - snip, slash, cut.

12. If in doubt, cut it out.

Here is an example that shows how I described Smokey to the reader in three snappy sentences - done via dialogue.

"Other than the near-disaster with the wild bees we did well for our first day. We made camp opposite the entrance to a property we both knew well—it was Molly’s place. A
weather-beaten sign on the gate said two words: Swenson Station. Roley glanced
at the sign and smiled.   ‘How about that Molly Swenson?’ he said. ‘What a cute filly she is. Shame she’s too young for me; I’d love to meet a nice girl like her and have some kids.’ He looked across at me and frowned for the umpteenth time that day. ‘Mm. It’s okay for good-lookin’ blokes like you,’he said.

‘Huh? Good looking?

‘Yeah. Look at ya. Tall, good lookin’ and popular. You’ve got all that blonde hair and those blue eyes. You’d easily catch a girl like Molly Swenson.’

Keep Writing!

Don't be shy ... leave a comment or email me: clancy_tucker@hotmail.com

Thanks for listening.

I'm Clancy Tucker.


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