Monday’s blog will be about teaching or what is going on in the industry. Today we’ll be talking about Show vs Tell.
The biggest mistake I see in manuscripts from new writing authors is telling instead of showing. I can truly understand. I wanted to tell everything when I started writing also. It took me a long time to understand Show vs Tell. Now that I have a handle on it, I’d like to share what I’ve learned through the years from very patient authors.
It’s very easy for me to write, “Susie went to the grocery store and saw a few friends and bought a lot of groceries.” That’s interesting isn’t it? Not. Yes, we know what she did, but let’s look at what will enhance the story.
The doors of the grocery store swung opened as Susie stepped in front of them. Nancy Mae pulled a grocery buggy out og the line on waiting buggies when Susie entered. “Nancy, it’s good to see you. How is the family?”
“To be honest, they are all sick. This flu has hit the whole family at once. I’m the only one able to get out, and I don’t feel very well myself.” Nancy pulled out another cart for Susie.
“I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?” Susie laid her hand on Nancy’s arm.
“Nothing really, I don’t want anyone to have this, so please don’t come to the house.” Tears filled Nancy’s eyes, ready to run down her cheek.
“I’m going to make Chicken Soup for our supper tonight, could I bring some and put it on the front porch?”
“That would be great. Thank you Susie.” Nancy gave Susie a hug.
The aisles in the fresh produce center were crowded with early morning shoppers. Susie bumped her cart into another cart to get out of the way of an employee filling the produce area. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Did I hurt you?”
“No, I’m fine,” the older lady rubbed her hip. “It shocked me when our buggies collied, and I hit the produce stand with my hip. This place is so crowded today, you’d think there was a sale going on. That good looking young man brought me some nicer peppers. He’s still there if you need some.”
Can you see how much more interesting it is to see who Susie meets at the grocery store, and their interaction? You saw what Susie was doing, not merely telling you. We learned something about her. She’s helpful to others by making Chicken Soup to take to a sick friend’s family. She’s nice to the lady she bumped, and the older lady still had eyes for a good looking man. Would you have gained that insight by only telling she went to the grocery store.
Showing is what brings your characters alive. You can peel the onion and learn more about them. There is one POV that you can tell, and that’s Omniscient POV. I’m writing a manuscript in Omniscient POV. I have an old country lady telling the story where we can’t have dialogue. You never know the thoughts of the main character, and really the old woman can only tells what she knows. It’s an interesting way to write, but I may not write many more in Omniscient POV.
When you talk about Show vs Tell, you have to include POV’s. If you’re writing in First Person POV, the person’s POV is the only one who can show thoughts, no one else. We are in one person’s POV. I think this is harder than Omniscience.
In the 1940s and 1950s you saw a log of telling. Things have changed through the years, and today we show more. We show people what the person is doing, never tell what they are doing. Yes, you may have to have a little telling, but if you can show, that is best.
Here’s a website that may help you with Show vs Tell, www.wright.edu/~david.wilson/eng3830/creativewriting101.pdf. You can download these lessons. I hope the link works for you. You may have to copy and paste it. These are helpful to understand how strong verbs can help. Read these, print them off and do them. It can be helpful.