Friday, May 11, 2012

Show, Don't Tell, like icarly and Harry Potter!

  Showing and not telling. 

 This, is something extremely vital that most first time writers don't get until their halfway done through a novel thinking to themselves, this is so good, I'm amazing at writing. Not that I'm... you know... guilty of this or anything *laughs shakily*

  But, what exactly is showing and not telling? 

  Well, we can learn what it is from the show icarly. "It's like T.V in your head!"-Sam Pucket. 

  In that one episode Sam was reading a book, and if you don't watch the show, she is not the type to read. She comments on how new reading is to her and how it's like a T.V in your head.

  You know what made her say that? Showing and not telling. 

  Here's a good explanation to what I'm trying to say. I assume we all have seen all of the Harry Potter movies. If you haven't... then you've been missing out on pure life for the past like, 13 year is it? Something like that. Anyways... In the Chamber of Secrets, there's a part where Voldemort's younger version of himself, Tom Riddle, writes to Harry through his magical journal. He decides that instead of just telling Harry about the Chamber of Secrets, he can show him through dragging him in to memory, and reliving it with Harry watching. Wouldn't it have been boring if in the end Tom Riddle decided to write this lengthy paragraph just telling us about how moaning myrtle had been killed and blah blah blah, *flips pages* talking to Dumbledore... something about Hagrid and a spider... Snore! You would lose readers.

  As writers, our goal is to make the reader feel like their there with you. That their in the moment of the scene. You want them to have a movie playing in their head. When you read a book, you don't want to have to exert any effort. Reading should be effortless, just like watching T.V, and you make it effortless by capturing their attention and making them feel like their actually there. 

  The basic concept of showing is describing how something feels, or how something happened, without really saying exactly what happened. 

  Ex: Telling;I was sad, so I cried.
        Showing: My hands shook and I could feel my eyes brimming with tears.

  Which sounds more appealing?

   Here's a great example of the terrors of telling instead of showing. In our English class we had to read a book that I will not name here, because I don't want to seem offensive, but let's just say this book was extremely guilty of showing and not telling. I'm not joking when I say one of the lines was, "I fell, it hurt real bad." 

  Um... no. That's just not how it works. When you fall, yeah it hurts, but the things running through your mind aren't I hurt. You feel the pain. A scrape in your shoulder that stings. A pounding in your head. A shout of pain ringing from your throat.

  Remember, you want your readers to see themselves falling, hitting the ground, sucking in a breath of pain , thumping their head against a rock, or catching their foot on a tree branch and tumbling to the ground. Instead of saying, "I fell," saying something along the lines of "The air was rushed past me and I could suddenly feel the dirt smearing on to my skin and the sharp pains etching their way on to my body," would sound better.
   Don't just feed your readers words. It makes them look bad, like their not smart enough to figure out that someone just fell and it hurt when they can clearly see that dirt smeared them, and pain was involved. 

  Show don't tell. 

 Be like Tom Riddle, dragging Harry in to his past and showing him instead of just telling him about the Chamber of Secrets. That's where things that start getting interesting.

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