Posts Tagged ‘writing problems’

Stack of BooksI hear you already. “Not that old chestnut!” Sorry. Sad, but true: “Show, Don’t Tell” is one of the most common of errors I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks prowling the new-writer-blogosphere, and sometimes the errors are simply egregious.

First off, let me say that I believe it is damned near impossible to “show” everything in a story. I mean, come on; you have to take a short-cut through a description now and again. I also think it’s unnecessary to “show” everything. And, to round out the argument against, there really aren’t any “rules” in fiction…or at least there aren’t any rules you can’t break now and again. As always, know when you break a rule, and do it for a reason.

As promised, I’m going to pick examples of these errors from my own stories, posted here on this site. Some of these stories are my very first efforts, so finding errors in them usually isn’t hard, but “Show, Don’t Tell” is a mantra that was drilled into me early on in workshops and from editors, so I had to root about a bit to find these offenders. Every story has spots where I need to move things along and not gum up the momentum with a fully descriptive flashback. A memory here, a wondering thought there, these might be difficult to “show” thoroughly. So, even if you find this sort of thing in your own work, the errors may not be big enough to warrant a rewrite; fixing them might alter the flow of the tale.


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