Catch the wind

Catch the wind

Monday, April 11, 2011

...show and tell




did you ever do show and tell at school when you were just a little kid? you know… take something to school and show it to the class and tell about it. did you know good writing has show and tell and if you got a balance of show and tell it makes your story move and groove. wow! how cool is that!

so whats the diff?

telling is just that. its telling the reader whats happening. its a summary of the action and it doesnt describe stuff or do dialogue or thoughts or feelings or sensations. it gets the story moving pretty fast. but…too much telling could make it move just way too fast and then it could end up with the “B” word…B-O-R-I-N-G! ack!.

showing has lots of details for important things that happen. it has dialogue and characters thoughts and feelings and sensations. it slows the story way down. but…too much showing could make it move too slow and that ends up with you know what. yep! that’s right! its the “B” word! ack!

a good writer has both show and tell in a story so that it moves at a good readable pace. how could you know how to balance it out? miss gail carson levine in writing magic creating stories that fly says…

“In general, you want to put in details that reveal character, or move the story along, or establish the setting or the atmosphere. The best details do more than one at the same time. Usually, when we write, we mix showing and telling together. We tell a little here, show a little there. Often the two are so closely entwined that you can hardly separate them.”

i learned from my writers books and from first impressions that miss dianne salerni does on her blog mostly i been telling and not showing when im writing. so now i gotta go back and edit a lot of stuff so i could have a balance of show and tell.

what about you? do you mostly show or mostly tell or do you have a good balance between show and tell?

…hugs from lenny

30 comments:

  1. Hi, Lenny! I'm glad you're learning from those First Impressions! So am I!

    It's hard to get that balance right. Sometimes I know I'm doing a little too much telling in my WIP, but I don't know how else to get the information down. But I find that when I revise the writing later, it gets easier to take that telling out! It might have felt like I had to put it there when I wrote it, but turns out, it was only for my benefit. The story didn't need it at all!

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  2. Awesome post. There has to be a bit of telly, but showy is the way to go. Lenny, it was tough for me to learn. But I've pretty much got it nailed now. It's much more FUN to show. I do know that. You explain it really well. TERRIFIC! (^_^)

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  3. this is the first time i've read a post which discusses the merits of telling! good stuff to think about here, lenny! thanks! :)

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  4. Great post, Lenny! Mixing up the showing and telling to get the pace just right - it's like a secret recipe, you just have to figure out the right combination to make the story come out right. :)

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  5. I could definitely be "showing" more. It's something that I'm working on. Thanks for the reminder, Lenny!

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  6. It's hard to learn the show and tell lesson, but once you get it, you really get it and can use them the right way!
    Congrats Lenny!

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  7. Hi, Lenny! Wonderful post. I try to balance out my showing and telling, but not always as successfully as I would hope. Have a great day full of sunshine, smiles, and lots of hugs!

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  8. Excellent post, Lenny. I think I'll show this to mu high school kids, cuz I'm always telling them this. They never listen to me, though. Maybe they'll listen to you! :-)

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  9. Great post, Lenny! Balancing show and tell is tricky. I think I show more than I tell. ...Speaking of show and tell (the school version), I once brought a lizard to class and it escaped from it's cage. We chased it to the office where one of the office lady's rolled over it's tail. The lizard was okay, but he was tail-less for a while. :)

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  10. It's so tough to show, but I *try* to as often as possible:)

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  11. Super post, Lenny! You are right, you have to have a good balance of showing and telling. It's important to go back over your manuscript and ask yourself if there is a way you can show something rather than tell it.

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  12. Good advice Lenny! I always do a round of editing where I only look at places to add more showing rather than telling!

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  13. Fantastic post, Lenny! I do a little of both. I have to watch sometimes, because I find I get into a groove and have to switch it up.

    Thanks for keeping me on my toes and I hope you're having a great week :)

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  14. Perfect advice, Lenny!

    I tend to do both, but then I go back and rewrite the sections of tell than would be better shown. :D

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  15. Great point, Lenny! So often we hear we're supposed to show, not tell, but it is important to have both if you want to avoid the "b" word! :)

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  16. Ha! I LOVE how you describe show and tell! Nice.

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  17. Hi Lenny .. it is as you rightly say a little of this and a little of that; it's so important to have your own voice .. and you definitely do that - it's great to read your posts and learn at the same time .. I love the colouration!! Cheers Hilary

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  18. Oh, vay! Lenny, you teach me so much. I so appreciate your ability to learn these things an' then, your willingness to share 'em. I surely enjoy learning the lessons you teach. Thanks, Lenny. I think your posts are very descriptive an' I always enjoy coming to your blog to learn an' grow.

    ~ Yaya

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  19. Hey Lenny!
    Cool posting dude and some really neat thoughts. I like to maintain a balance. I think it works for me.
    As a side note Lenny, I write in a style that is aimed at just the one person, the reader and not an audience. This is what I do on my blogs. I am 'talking' directly to the one reader.
    Great post, young dude.
    Big smiles, your way, Mr. Gary :)

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  20. Well said, Lenny. "Telling" isn't evil; "showing" is just generally more engaging. A healthy balance is the hallmark of good writing - knowing when to use which technique to achieve just the effect you want, or to provoke just the reaction you want in your readers - that takes practice and a good sense of balance.


    Holly Jahangiri

    It's All a Matter of Perspective

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  21. How did you get so smart! This is a great lesson is show vs. tell. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. I think this is the hardest thing. Finding that balance. I struggle with it every day.

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  23. Hey Lenny!
    Just a quick further comment to let you know I have an award waiting for you over at my site. You can do whatever you wish with it.
    Hope you are having a neat weekend :)
    Hugs and smiles, 'Mr. Gary' :)

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  24. I try to remove the telling from my writing, but sometimes they just sneak back in there. So good blog topic, as I think every writer has to keep an eye out on this.

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  25. I need to balance my tell with a little more show, initially. My first drafts of anything seem to have too much tell in them. But, that's what editing is for, right? :) Great post, Lenny! And big CONGRATS!! on your 1 year blogiversary - so awesome! Keep it up ~ :)

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  26. Lenny, sounds like you have a good handle on Show and tell!

    I know when I started writing, I use to tell a lot. Now, I show as much as possible. But, I tend to have a more 'minimalistic' type of writing (less description than some writers), but that's how I roll. :)

    Congrats on your blogoversary! Sorry I missed it!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  27. Hmmm. I know I posted something here the other day, but it's not showing up. Sometimes you have to do a bit of telling or else (like you said) it slows the story down. I just gotta remember to switch back and forth!

    Happy belated blogiversary by the way!

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  28. Lenny, I had such a hard time of this in the beginning. I spent to much time in my characters' heads. After a while, I finally figured it out!

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  29. I'm with Theresa -- this was a tough one for me! But you've done a great overview here. Thank you!

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  30. I love this Lenny. I had such a hard time with this at beginning and though it still creeps up in my writing I'm learning SO much with each novel I write. Such a great overview on how to handle it!

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