Show Vs Tell Vs Sanity

Show Vs. Tell has created many debates. Research until your face turns blue, there are many different perspectives. The choice is your own, though, keep in mind it is widely preached to Show rather than Tell. 

The details of this subject  can get boring. Decent arguments have sprung up for both sides, but it all depends with which way you write better. Some are better in Tell mode, getting all fancy, but only some. And even then they are risking it if there is too much. If you want your story to read quick-paced like a movie, then Show is the way to go. 

I'm in the Show camp. Tell has its place, I just believe Show allows the reader to become the character they are reading about, to get into their body, see through their eyes. 

Tell can slow the pace of a tale, but too much telling and the story runs the risk of sounding like a text book. 

Telling is more passive, where you can hide behind prose--which runs the risk of becoming ambiguous,making the story hard to follow. 


Because the reader isn't seeing a scene in their head, nothing solid; they are being told what happened, or being told how something looks. Making them have to read the sentence over. This could also hurt the reader's visuals--I'll get into that in a minute. 

Take a look at these two sentences: 

She threw the ball 


Arm pulled back, she swung forward, launching the ball a good twelve feet ahead.

Not the greatest of sentences, but I hope you get the point. You saw (hopefully) the woman throwing the ball in the second sentence better than the first.

There's something else. The first sentence creates a preconceived image in the reader's mind of someone throwing a ball from prior memories of seeing a ball being thrown--you with me? This is description, but Tell too much, the image in the reader's mind becomes ruined. 

In the Showing sentence, I can elaborate because I'm describing the motions which equal a whole. You actually see the arm going out of view, then back into eyeshot before it launches the ball out ahead. I'm creating a new experience for the reader, a new memory. 

Just remember, Telling isn't the enemy. Sometimes it's needed. But use it wisely. 

Another technique is writing in Tell mode, and then switching it later to Show mode. It's harder to write in Show mode. You will find a lot of creativity and scenes come out because you're not thinking of the next scene, you've already created them. Now you just have to gussy them up with a good shot of show. 

Of course I fall prey to forgetting these things, everyone does. You can't remember everything when you sit down before your laptop. No one is perfect. 

As time goes by it will ingrained into your mind and come naturally. Just remember, no writer is the same. What works for me, may not work for you. It's important to take advise with a grain of salt, smoosh it into your sub-conscience and see what works best for you. I could be totally full of it, though you know that's not true. (laughs). 

Google it and check it out for yourself. There's way too much to reference. 

Until next time, keep writing. 



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