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Behind “The Process”: 1 Quick Show-Don’t-Tell Cheatcode
In my blog, I write about many things. Anything with Behind “The Process” in the title refers to my blogs about the writing process. Today’s is a quickie, specifically a how-to tip for following the old writers’ adage:
Show, Don’t Tell
If you’re not familiar, show, don’t tell, is the concept that writers shouldn’t tell the reader something is up, like this:
The stress lines ran deep like knife wounds on his forehead. His eye’s were a million miles away…
The idea here is that someone looks considerably stressed and deep in thought. You could also say:
He looks considerably stressed and deep in thought.
But now you’re not even trying. C’mon bro.
Here’s the tip. Ready?
Show with Dialogue
Dialogue is the go-to saver of over descriptive prose. For me anyway. So if the message is that your character is stressed and lost in thought, present it easily, and with few words–specifically a character’s words. The reader will figure it out just as fast, and it’ll be more intuitive and organic. Like this:
“Hey Ted. Ted. TED!“
“You alive in there? I see smoke coming out your ears. What’s got you all fucked up?”
Not the greatest example, maybe, but, hey, I’m not gonna give away my best stuff for nothin!
It’s not the only trick in the book, but it’s a good one if you don’t already use it. If you feel like you are over describing the scene…let someone on the page put it into their words.
Hope that helps!
Christopher Tallon writes, podcasts, and…wait a second. Are you actually reading this? HIGH FIVE!