Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

If you’ve ever been in a creative writing course or read books on editing, at some point you’ve been urged to “show, don’t tell.” In other words, try to bring your “scenes” to life.

Look at this example:

Tracey was furious, too agitated to continue preparing dinner. He paced up and down the small living room. How do you dare! And with that fool, Maria, who had been hanging around the middle of the street. Well, she would show him that she was not one to take lightly. Wait until you get home.

He looked wildly around him. On the sideboard was an ugly bronze statuette that her grandmother had given her. He imagined it buried deep in Charlie’s skull.

When he walked through the door he was as cheery and cheerful as ever. He gave her a forceful kiss and asked what they were going to eat. She told him to sit down, it wouldn’t be long. He wondered how he was going to approach it, what the deceptions would say. In the end, she just dated him. He clearly told her that he knew what he had been doing with Maria. But he just laughed. He said that Mary had approached him, that there was nothing in him.

Enraged, she grabbed the statuette and smashed it on the back of her neck. She saw the astonishment on his face and his mouth open to protest, but his anger washed over her. All he could see was the infamous red mist, and he put the ornament on his head over and over again until he was still.

Now the above gives you all the information you need. It is not badly written and the information in the article is clear. He gives us the details we need and does it succinctly. In fact, if you read 19th century novelists like George Eliot, Jane Austen, or Henry James, you will find large stretches of text written like this (the writing will undoubtedly be of better quality; it will undoubtedly be longer). -winded) and that’s how fiction was then written. To be honest, I prefer to enjoy it. Done right, it engages the intellect and draws the reader to the author’s thoughts very effectively.

Look at this passage from Middlemarch.

His thoughts were not marred by any solemnity or pathos about the old man in bed: those feelings are easier to affect than to feel for an old creature whose life is visibly nothing more than a vestige of vices. She had always seen the nastier side of Mr. Featherstone: he was not proud of her and she was only useful to him. Being anxious for a soul that is always biting you should be left in the hands of the saints on earth, and Mary was not one of them.

But today’s readers expect greater immediacy than that. They would expect Mary’s feelings to be shown, rather than spoken to. In fact, in general, today’s readers want to be much more emotionally engaged. This is true for all fiction, including novels and short stories, but it is particularly true if you want to write genre fiction, such as crime, romantic fiction, spy thrillers, or historical romances.

Take a look at the first excerpt rewritten to show, rather than tell, what happened between Tracey and Charlie.

Tracey was enraged. His breathing turned into short gasps and he could hear his heart pounding.

‘That cheating pig’ she told herself. And with that fool, Maria. How could he? What does she have that I do not?

He tried to calm his breathing, which came in short, sharp gasps. She debated with herself how she was going to bring it up, shove him in the face. With one eye he looked at the bronze statuette on the sideboard.

“Good,” she said. Let’s see what you have to say for yourself. Let’s see how you feel with that buried in your skull. ‘

He heard her footsteps in the hallway before she opened the door.

‘Hello darling,’ he said. ‘Good Morning?’

‘Oh, not bad, not bad.’

‘The dinner is ready?’

‘Not yet. It won’t take long.

She looked. ‘Something wrong? Your face looks a bit blotchy. Are you nauseous about something?

He stood up and put his hands on her shoulders. Stay still for a minute, will you? Stop walking up and down. What’s wrong?

She looked at him with eyes like coals. ‘Only a word. Mary.

He stared at her and his grip on her shoulder tightened.

‘What the hell are you …?’ he started, but then he laughed. He released her by the shoulders and dropped into the chair.

That’s what you heard. So what nosy old idiot let you in on that?

No matter. What matters is, why?

‘Why do you think?’

‘How could you?’

Oh give it up She was on me like a rash. She wanted it. I just pleased him. I did not mean to say anything.

He looked at her and offered his hand. Come on, Trace. It’s not like you didn’t go around the block.

She held out her hand as if asking for forgiveness, but with her other hand she grasped the statuette and pulled it down hard. Blood rushed to his forehead from the wound he had made.

“For God’s sake, Trace,” he managed. ‘Be careful.’

As she swung the ornament over and over, she muttered, “And don’t call me Trace.”

This time, the writer has explored the action and dramatized the incident to make it look like a scene in a play, showing the events as they are actually happening, thus leading the reader. The first two excerpts are simply recorded events (the first) or recorded thoughts (the second).

Of course, there are times when “telling” is actually the best vehicle to convey something. The reader would be exhausted if each page contained drama and conflict. But there are other mechanisms that, when done in moderation, can also ensure that we are shown rather than reported. In fact, here is another passage from Middlemarch that uses another technique, that of the internal monologue.

Lydgate, in fact, was already aware of being fascinated by a strikingly different woman from Miss Brooke; He did not suppose in the least that he had lost his balance, but he had said of this woman: “She is grace itself; she is perfectly beautiful and accomplished. ‘He considered simple women like other serious events in life, to be confronted with philosophy and investigated by science..

In my own novel, Hangman’s Wood, I use this technique to reveal both the fate of one of the abductees and the mental state of one of the perpetrators without leading the reader through the incident.

He enjoyed the pleading more, he decided. That was when you really felt his terror, when you got close. She had begged and cried so much that he was bored. mehe’d finally had to stop babbling, stop her with a good slap to her fat, pale face. That had put some color on her cheek. He had hated its whiteness, thought it looked like an undercooked cake.

It had been easy, he chuckled, getting her into his car and then driving it out of the parking lot. He had checked where the CCTV cameras were the day before and found that they did not cover the entire site. And it was such a cloudy and rainy afternoon, already dark at four o’clock, that no one was going to pay much attention. He just wanted to get into their cars out of the weather. The security guy wasn’t doing much either. Staying dry, Graham guessed. So it had been a matter of minutes before two nice young men volunteered to help her put her heavy purchases in the trunk of her car and then carry her to the back.

The reason I chose this method was because at the time I also needed to think a lot about the rhythm of the story. And rhythm is something that I will discuss in the next article.

By admin

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