Show, Don’t Tell!

So forwards into the week, and so on and so on. Last night was a rough one – we both had a long day, and had to do a full grocery shop. That’s an idea that will not be used again! Monday nights might be good for being quiet, but we didn’t get home until 9:00, totally worn out with not much of a night to speak of remaining. We agreed that getting up early on Saturday was most likely the best choice of action.

I bring it up because it makes me think of the number of times that I’ve thought an idea on my own personal pacing and time management would be great and work out just fine, but ended up being the worst possible thing I could have done and burning me out in the process. This applies to the short story that I have been writing, especially. I realize now that I set my sights a little too high on when I would get it finished, and my growing level of frustration has burnt me out on the story. So I must set it aside for awhile, let it germinate in the back of my mind while I push forward with the re-invention of my novel.

That’s another issue that’s arising with me: this re-invention is demanding to be written, and it’s difficult for me to deny that impulse – when inspiration strikes you just have to grab on to it and let it pull you along.

Continuing to read the book A Short Guide to Writing and Selling Fiction, and either grasping some old things I’d learned in new ways or learning entirely new things. The man does have quite a gift for  putting some of the more difficult topics of the craft in more simplified terms. Take this on showing versus telling, which I thought was particularly great:

Writing and Reading a story is a collaboration between the writer and reader. It should be something like this:


If a writer does not show enough in the story, the reader has to re-create the story in his or her mind and it will look like this:


The reader has to fill in a lot of space with guessing and could guess wrong. That is why we give them specific details and setting. 

It’s all about the nexus of interactivity between reader and writer. I think that’s something that writers tend to forget about, and stay on the second spectrum there. I mean, to be fair though, that’s one hell of a tricky balancing act and some of the best writers will fall on one side of the line or another from time to time.  I’m still trying to find that balance myself, and I think once I start to get the hang of that I’ll get into another level with my writing.

He also says that setting is what separates the professional writer from the amateur, and I’m thankful to say that I have learned how to establish setting by this point, even if it takes me a few passes to get it built in properly.

Oh, and just going to throw this out for today: it’s the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Some great story ideas in there!

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  1. Pingback: The Gifted Writer: Learning How To Give Back to Readers | Angela Maiers Educational Services, Inc.

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