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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Show versus Tell, example fourteen

From contest entries and critiques that I’ve done, I’ve noticed that often people don’t quite understand what exactly is “showing” and what exactly is “telling.” So, I’m doing this series to give numerous examples so that you can see for yourself the various kinds of “telling” that can occur in your own manuscript, and suggestions for fixing it.

This example is from my own proposal. It’s an Inspirational romantic suspense.

(From Jorge's point of view)

Jorge explained, “My brother still visits some of his old friends to try to get them to come to church with him.”

“Oh.” Her eyes skittered away as she renewed her vigor in sweeping.

She had never been comfortable talking about her faith. They’d rarely talked about God when they were dating, but she had said she was a strong Christian.


The last paragraph is all telling. There’s a more dynamic and interesting way to show this information, plus you can use this as a way to deepen the point of view.

I decided to anchor the information in Jorge’s current thoughts and wonderings, which are all in real time. It turns the paragraph into a combination of backstory information about her faith and Jorge’s current thoughts in the scene.

Jorge explained, “My brother still visits some of his old friends to try to get them to come to church with him.”

“Oh.” Her eyes skittered away as she renewed her vigor in sweeping.

Strange, she seemed even more uncomfortable talking about her faith than a month ago. They’d rarely talked about God, but she’d never actually avoided the subject like this before. She had said she was a strong Christian—was her faith wavering in the face of all the recent problems?


The boldface phrases are all current, Jorge’s thoughts in real time. It shows the backstory information mixed with the immediate thoughts so that it: (a) is in deep point of view and (b) shows forward movement in the story (c) without pausing to “tell” the reader about the heroine’s faith struggles.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Camy,
    I see the strength in the change. I'm learning from your blog. Thank you!
    ~ Wendy

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  2. Great example! I'm reading Sushi for One right now. I'm about halfway and boy are you the Queen at deep POV. Well done!

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  3. So helpful. I've been reading your writing articles and learning a lot. Thanks for all the valuable information.

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  4. Thanks for posting about this topic. It's easy to lose sight of showing and easily fall into telling!

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  5. Thanks so much, guys! I'm so glad this example was helpful!
    Camy

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  6. very good nugget, Cami! thanks. now, off to fix mine! ; )

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