Friday, Jul 09, 2010

Show and Tell

If you’re like me, you remember “Show and Tell” from Kindergarten days. Each student would bring in a treasured item, stand before the class, and show the item to the class. The big thing about “Show and Tell” was that the class could “see” the item rather than having it only described. 

Show and Tell in fiction writing works the same way. As fiction writers, our job is to “show” our readers the story rather than simply “telling” it. We’ve all heard the dictum over and over: SHOW; DON’T TELL! 🙂 

A key ingredient in showing is immediacy. This means that we take our readers right into a scene. They are there, experiencing the scene with the characters. As Browne and King point out in their classic work, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, “the primary aim of fiction is to get your readers so involved in the lives of your characters that they feel what your charaters feel” (p. 8). 

The way we do this is by creating scenes and bringing our readers into those scenes. In my next post, I will discuss how to create scenes that ring with immediacy and “show” your story rather than “tell” it.

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