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How I switched from tell to show…

August 7, 2013

How I switched from tell to show...

I’m in the process of going through my latest manuscript for the two hundred and thirty seventh time, and every time I think I’ve got it just right, I make that fatal mistake of reading over it one last time. Seriously, how bad a writer was I – um, am I? Oh whatever. In any case some of the imagery was so incredibly clumsy and uninspiring that even I wanted to give up and stop reading.

Let me give you an example and how, I hope, I’ve made it just a little more fulfilling to the reader.

Take one:

The last stop on the trail was Rainbow Viewpoint. It was aptly named because standing in front of the waterfall was a big, bright rainbow, created by the sunlight as it refracted off of millions of tiny droplets of water.

It’s only a wedge of descriptive writing, hardly relevant to the plot, but nonetheless it was distinctly ‘told’ and not ‘shown’. Was it possible to create something a little more inspiring? Something that actually prodded an image to the forefront of the mind?

Take two:

The last stop on the trail was Rainbow Viewpoint. And sure enough, rising defiantly from the cauldron of white mists was a bright rainbow, colours sharply defined as the glaring sun struck and refracted off of billions of tiny droplets of water.

There isn’t a huge variation between the two themes, but I found that by being a little freer with my writing, I could escape the insipid grip of exposition.

There we are, short and sweet. More on this theme to follow as it’s a favourite of mine. Any similar experiences gratefully received, absorbed, utilised.

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One Comment
  1. I don’t think I could EVER be happy with a manuscript, no matter how many times I rework it and polish. It’s horrible to have to let it go at some point, but that’s what we all have to do, I think.

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