Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lay out the clues

Click here THEN the magnifying glass THEN the zoomer
for a GINORMOUS picture of this magnificent clutter.
Show. Don't tell.

You've heard that before! And it's advised because people love mysteries. They like assembling the clues to draw conclusions for themselves.

So pick one of the following and drop the clues. Allow the reader to experience one of these without ever telling them what they're experiencing. Let them draw their own conclusions.

The shuttle craft was old.
The weeboo missed his dead mate.
The zombie was fresh.
The kitlish was hungry.
The room was cold.
The empath enraged Cordan.
The basement was cluttered.
The priest made Melandra nervous.
The ordogron was hungry.
Honora loathed Eldreth.

Here's some excellent discussions about showing not telling I stumbled across while collecting prompts:

Wordplay: Never Name an Emotion "As readers, we don’t care what the characters are experiencing so much as we care what we experience through the characters."

Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors: Most Common Mistakes Series: Are Your Verbs Showing or Telling? "Every time you write that a character saw/smelled/heard/felt something, see if you can reword the sentence to show the reader just what it is the character is seeing/smelling/hearing/feeling."

Kidlit.com · What “Show, Don’t Tell” Really Means "One kind of knowing, you get by reading facts in the newspaper. You are a passive recipient of information. Another kind of knowing, the kind you practice every day in your life, is the detective work kind. You have to do some reasoning, some sleuthing, you have to actively pay attention to what’s going on around you — what the world is showing you — in order to figure people out, judge a situation, make your own assumptions and decisions about things."

Show, Don't (Just) Tell (Dennis G. Jerz, Seton Hill University) "Don’t just tell me your brother is talented… show me what he can do, and let me decide whether I’m impressed."
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