Friday, September 24, 2010

Showing vs. Telling

Telling:
It was a beautiful day outside. People were outside doing chores instead of sitting inside.

Showing:
Just across the street a neighbor was working on his jeep with a friend. Music from the radio and laughter from the men wafted through the air in my direction. Taking a deep breath I took in the fresh smell of recently mowed grass from yet another neighbors house. We wave at each other as he takes a break from his yard work. A child rings the bell on her bike as she rides past the house grinning as the wind blows gently through her hair.


It wasn't until I read one of my "help" books that I realized I had done a whole lot of the first, telling. I immediately slowed down the pace of my writing and began agonizing over each paragraph making sure that I was showing rather than telling. Then I realized that I had too much showing and no telling. I've learned, though, that I shouldn't agonize over it in the beginning. It slows me down too much and I really don't like that.

Now what I do is just write. Whatever comes to mind first is what gets typed. Then I go back over and revise my writing at a later date. I have found that the distance gives me a better perspective. With that perspective I decide what needs to be shown and what needs to be told. According to my "help" book both showing and telling are important, but I need to find a good balance.

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