Sin #3 There’s no Telling in Writing!!!

This week I’ve decided to write about the little tick living in every writer’s bed. And I do mean every writer. Newbie’s like me, and even pro’s seem to suffer from this sin. It attacks you in the wee hours of night after you’ve been writing for hours with no sleep and not nearly enough caffeine. You start to wander, you’re tired, you’re rushing it so you can it done, then POW! There it is right on the page staring you in your blind face where it will go completely unnoticed by you until one of your faithful points out the obvious. (hmm, run-on sentences might be up for grabs next week)

What is this mystery of showing and telling? I’m telling you everything aren’t I? I mean it’s all words on a page, right? This one sin alone could take up about 5 weeks of blogs but the long and short is that using a mix of showing and telling allows people insight into the world you’ve created. Too much description can slow the flow and bore the reader, not enough and it becomes too vague and leaves the reader feeling lost.

If you really want to have some fun then Google ‘Show don’t tell writing examples’. Literally thousands of blogs all over the world have all covered this tricky subject. I keep a few writing examples close to me when I’m in edit/rewrite mode as it helps me take a closer look at each paragraph I’ve written to debate it’s intent.

Examples: Mr. Big sat at the large table and with an expression of boredom, picked up his cup and drank the remains of the now cold coffee.

Mr. Big sat down in one of the many spindly-legged chairs. It squawked a protest as he shifted his weight and leaned back. Glancing into the crystal centerpiece he caught his expression and realised he looked every bit as bored as he felt. Caught up in his own reflection he barely noticed as he wrapped a liver marked hand around the chipped cup and drained it to its dregs. Not even the coolness of the once steaming liquid seemed enough to snap him out of the funk.

Blah blah blah, you all know it, and I’m sure you have ones much better than my sad attempt here. Being a noob means if I had a quarter for everytime someone gave me a crit and told me I was telling too much, well I’d have a crapload of quarters and that many more chances at winning the lotto.  You?

Someone told me they literally acted out the scene and walked through all the motions then sat down and wrote it. That the physicality somehow helped them to sink into their story. What tips/tricks do you use to combat the tick?

Tammy’s tips of the Week

Find some fav blogs/sites on writing and check them at least once a week. One of my personal faves is Daily Writing Tips  I think it’s really important to stay focused on common writing errors etc so that what not to do always resides in the back of your mind. Being aware of the pitfalls, helps avoid the creation of bad habits.

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12 Responses to Sin #3 There’s no Telling in Writing!!!

  1. Pat Hollett says:

    I tend to tell vs. show and need to work on showing more. I wish I could figure out the trick that makes it easy and lets it flow like any other line, but I haven’t figured it out yet.
    I have to work at it, and if I had a nickel for everytime someone said ‘show don’t tell’, well I could have dinner out… 🙂
    I’ll check out that writing tips website… lord knows I could use all the tips I can get.
    Good idea for a blog this week. You seem to come up with some great ideas and your manner of writing these are very down to earth with a little humor infused. Love it! 😉

    • CDNWMN says:

      Awe thanks Pat. That’s really nice to hear. I tend to get my topics from our discussions on writing. It always inspires me. 🙂

  2. Gareth says:

    Great tips T. To be honest I’m a major sinophile for this particular writer problem (likewise I also sin on the run on sentence.)

    One of my writing sites is here, so obviously I have great taste plus the lessons are being absorbed.

  3. Very nice post, Tammy!

  4. dannigrrl says:

    Ugh! The hated show vs. tell! Great job on the post, Tammy and I loved your example. It is a fine balance and I find evidence of over showing and over telling in published books all the time. Things our crit partners would tear us apart for. All we can do is try our best to blend the two, but above all stay true to the story.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • CDNWMN says:

      Danni you are gifted in the art of showing, and yes, our critters would never let some stuff fly that seems to make it into publication everywhere you look. Thank heavens for them! 🙂

  5. Becky Chapin says:

    Awesome blog, Tammy! 😀 Thank you for the bread crumbs headed this way. ^.^

  6. Sally A Wolf says:

    I say amen to that! If I had a quarter for every time some one told me I described something to much I would be a very rich woman. I don’t understand how the big wings AKA King and Koontz can do it but a new-be like me just is rambling.

    • T. Crosby says:

      I like to think we all start from the same place, with passion. I think, if nothing else, that passion is the link that flows from the blood of all writers. Like everything in life it’s a process, one turn of the pedal at a time. 🙂 So glad you stopped by to comment Sally, thank-you! 🙂

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