Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tipsy Tuesday

Show, don't tell. If I had a nickle for every time I've heard those three words... Well, I wouldn't be rich, but I'd have more money.

There are many ways to show your reader what's happening (versus telling her via exposition). Sometimes exposition is necessary, but sometimes it isn't.

For example:

I saw the look on my husband's face and waited for the explosion.
"Are you kidding me?" he asked, his face turning beet-red. "What was she thinking?"
There was the problem. Our oldest daughter seldom thought before she acted. It was almost as if she had an allergy to common sense. "She didn't mean any harm," I defended.
"She never means any harm." He shook his head. He loved the girl, I knew, and was as deeply frustrated by her actions as he was baffled.

Now, how about something like this:

"Now, Charlie, don't get mad."
"Are you kidding me?" His face turned beet-red. "What was she thinking?"
"Well, that's the problem. She doesn't think." I shrugged. "It's like she's allergic to common sense. But she didn't mean any harm."
"She never means any harm." He shook his head. "I love her, but by God she frustrates me. I just don't get it."

See the difference? Sometimes it's just a little thing, but it can get across the same information by showing, not telling.

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