Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Part 2-Show, Don't Tell Handouts

Here is the first handout from last night's meeting where we discussed the directive:

Show, Don't Tell

I've included instructions and three examples. If you have any questions, drop me an email. As always, I'm available to NJCWG members private discussions. All you need to do is pick up the tab for coffee at the Ringwood Diner (smile).

Please note that these handouts are in preparation for our 2/27/06 Writers' Workshop

Show, Don’t Tell
Workshop Preparation

by Louise Bergmann DuMont

Show the smoke instead of the fire.
New writers try too hard to describe the snap of the twigs, the intense heat, and the color of the flames. Sometimes it pays to take a more subtle approach. Describe the smoke and let the reader determine that it comes from a raging fire. Remember what it is you want the reader to focus on. When you concentrate on a description of the fire you move the focal point off of the protagonist. Better to describe the protagonist choking on the smoke.

TELL to quickly move past something.
SHOW to pause and draw attention to something.
If you want to get your character to a new location, or you need to let your reader know facts pertinent to a coming event – TELL.
If a scene is significant to the plot, is easily portrayed by action or reveals something important about a character – SHOW.

Use comparisons and analogies (like or as) to bring life to dry descriptions.
Instead of Saying: The boy took of his clothes quickly.
Say: The boy shed his clothes like a boy on the banks of the Mississippi in August.
Instead of Saying: There were some shiney coins.
Say: The coins glittered by the light of the slots as if they were the jewels in a queen’s crown.
Instead of Saying: The woman had a beautiful voice.
Say: The woman's voice rose like a lark in love.

Use strong nouns and active verbs.
Instead of Saying: the cloth was rough
Say: the coarse fabric tore at her skin
Instead of Saying: she took a cool drink of water
Say: the cool water brought new life to her parched throat
Instead of Saying: her pretty new clothes
Say: her fashionable silks drew the attention of every woman in the room

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