show. don't tell

It’s a fact that Andrew likes word play:

He does it even when he is angry, as he is with Kevin. You could blame it on the drugs, but here he is sober:

Andrew is good with words, when he chooses to use them, if he thinks they are worth the effort. He can be uncomfortably blunt: “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t blow you.” And of course, with his eidetic memory, he doesn’t forget. 

Which is how you know just how affected he is here:

anonymous asked:

I've just come to the realization that I am an adverb slut. I need to figure out alternatives but for some reason I'm drawing a blank. Do you know of any resources or ideas on how to use adverbs less? Thanks!!

Think about how people speak in real life. Nobody directly says ‘I’m angry’ or ‘I’m sad’ or ‘I’m happy.’ You can tell just by looking at their face, body language and their tone.

Consider these three sentences:

  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said angrily.
  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said sadly.
  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said happily.

It’s the same two words but you picture a different image based on that final adverb. However, this is less effective as this is more so telling how they feel rather than showing. And you know that age old writing rule…

Consider this change:

  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said, through gritted teeth.
  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said, her voice cracking.
  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said, her eyes sparkling.

See? I’ve managed to describe exactly how they’re feeling without directly telling you the emotion. Same can be done with body language:

  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said, balling her hands into fists.
  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said, burying her face into her hands.
  • ‘I’m fine,’ she said, nodding her head.

Of course, here we’re still using that damned word ‘said’ which a lot of people seem to hate. I have no problem with the word said  you are allowed to use it, so long as you don’t overuse it. Here are some alternatives:

  • ‘I’m fine,’ she snapped.
  • ‘I’m fine,’ she whimpered.
  • ‘I’m fine,’ she laughed.

Easy! It’s a simple word and it shows us so much. The same could be done for describing actions:

  • Walked —> Stomped
  • Walked —> Tiptoed
  • Walked - Skipped

Remember that adverbs are still OK to use sometimes. You don’t have to eliminate them from your vocabulary.


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Ravenclaw Headcanon

Ravenclaws are very happy that their dormitory is in a tower. Most of the windows can be climbed out of and they pull themselves onto the roof. They don’t do it like the Gryffindors do, for bravery, but for solitude. There is an unspoken rule that if a Ravenclaw sees another Ravenclaw on the roof, they don’t talk. On the roof or afterwards. It’s a safe space. Sometimes it’s where Ravenclaws be the teenagers they are and smoke, while sometimes it’s a peaceful place to just read. If a Ravenclaw is sitting on the roof crying, any other Ravenclaw, friend or not, will go and sit on the roof with them until they calm down. And another unspoken rule is that if someone sat on the roof and cried more than twice in a week, they have to talk to someone about it, a friend, a professor, or Madam Pomfrey. This is what once led a third year Ravenclaw to march a first year Gryffindor, who had somehow made his way on the roof of Ravenclaw Tower, to Professor McGonagall. He thought he was in trouble, but became very confused when he was simply asked how he felt.

  • fanfic writer: *writing* Oh wow, they are going to love this. This is by far my best work!
  • fic: *witty lines* *perfect love making* *fluffy enough to kill us all* *a dash of angst, a smidgen of hurt/comfort*
  • fanfic writer: Oh man. This is it. This will be my legacy! *sweats into fic* *bleeds into fic* *cries into fic* *spends days perfecting the grammar and verbage and sex scenes* *has 15 betas look over it*
  • fanfic writer: Okay. It is finally time to release my baby on the world. Here you go fandom. You're welcome.
  • fandom: Ha, cute. *like* *kudos*
  • fanfic writer: :/
  • * * *
  • same fanfic writer: *writing* Whatever. This is shit, I don't even care right now. A singing squirrel? Sure, let's do it. Haha, cheesy lines that make no sense, sure. Grammatical errors out the wazoo? Why not. No one's going to read this piece of crap anyway, I literally wrote it on a scrap of 1 ply toilet paper with a broken yellow crayon.
  • fanfic writer: LOL *post*
  • fanfic writer: *sigh*

The finale of TWD season 7 taught me about show don’t tell. That is something that trips me up as a writer. In fact the entire series has taught me about it. Whether it’s through the direction and or the writing, I truly believe that I finally understand that concept. Richonne is definitely one major of the things that helped me understand. The writers showed us their connection from the moment they laid eyes on one another. They did so through subtle clues, gestures and smiles. Tonight’s episode showed Carl and Rick running to Michonne’s side when they thought that she got hurt. That one scene of them sitting together proved that they are a family. I don’t have to hear Carl say that Michonne is his mother or Rick say that she is his wife. They showed me that all season long. Rick sitting at her beside holding her hand was all the evidence that I needed.

Originally posted by the-walking-dead-art

Seriously, if G3ncy were canonized officially, it wouldn’t matter because we live in the “Death of the author era” and we make our own narratives.

But now, it is impossible to deny the favoritism the Overwatch team has towards G3nji and I think this is unprofessional as hell.

The only one that has an almost complete lore is G3nji, the Hero Gallery has irrelevant bits to his story (the name of his father Sojiro is one, while Pharah’s father is NAMELESS).

Hanzo, has none, Zenyatta has none, Mercy has none. They’re currently treated as accessories for his character development & prizes for having enduring pain and suffering and nothing more.

Good storytelling is SHOW don’t TELL. And I’m sorry, but 2 or 3 paragraphs in the Hero Gallery is telling.


he’s so beautiful (´▽`ʃƪ)♡

When ‘Show Don’t Tell’ is Bad Advice, Again

Part 2

I’ve seen more of those “stop telling when you should be showing” articles floating around in my Tumblr feed, and they got me thinking.

I had responded to an article regarding the whole ‘Show Don’t Tell’ mantra before this year rolled around, and my opinion of it still stands. I think that there’s a place for showing and a place for telling in writing. I also think that professing the whole “only do one and not the other” thing is probably sending the wrong message to young writers.

I understand why the advice is given so readily. I know that a lot of novice writers tend to tell way more than they should, and it’s an easy trap to fall into. Showing is much more difficult and much more time-consuming to do. While I agree that it’s important, and that it can vastly improve your writing, I believe that it’s not something you should strive to do all the time. There are instances where telling is more effective than showing. Aside from pacing, which I explained in the first article, here are a couple of other instances I came up with.

When You Have Something to Hide

Showing is unpacking. Showing is using vivid description (including simile and metaphor), sensory details, and actions to allow the reader to experience the story instead of being told via author exposition. When you do this, you make your writing more interesting, but you also draw attention to whatever it is you’re describing.

This stands out: “Wrapped around his body and held together by hundreds of messy cross-stitches, was a trench coat that smelled like moth balls soaked in cheap beer. The stench was so strong that I found myself plunging my nose into the collar of my own coat before I even reached him.”

A line like this does not: “He wore a tattered trench coat.”

As a reader, you remember the lines of good description where the author takes the time to unpack rather than the lines where you’re just told something.

However, telling can be effective when you’re not trying to draw attention to an aspect of your story. For example, say you have a minor character in the beginning of your story that will end up being a major player later on, but you don’t want the readers to know. You’re going to have to briefly introduce that character in some manner, and then have him slip into the background for a while. You can accomplish this by not giving him a lot of focus, and by proxy, not giving him a shown, memorable description.

This applies to not only characters, but to scenes as well. Sometimes there are incredibly boring things that happen in a story that you as an author is going to want to summarize by telling instead of showing.

As author James Scott Bell puts it, “Sometimes a writer tells as a shortcut, to move quickly to the meaty part of the story or scene. Showing is essentially about making scenes vivid. If you try to do it constantly, the parts that are supposed to stand out won’t, and your readers will get exhausted.“

In essence, showing is about choosing what stands out in a story and what doesn’t. Remember when you’re deciding what you should focus on, always ask yourself why. Why is it important that this character, object, or scene stands out?

Tone of Voice

I’m going to say it here, even if some people don’t agree. I think it’s okay to tell tone, and for that matter, pitch of a character’s voice when appropriate.

When we speak, we have “ups and downs”, and even if we don’t understand the language, we can generally tell if someone is asking a question vs. making a joke vs. giving a command vs. being serious based on them. These “ups and downs”, called inflection, are expressed in text through punctuation and by inferring via the subject matter of a conversation.

However, even with these tools, it’s sometimes hard to gauge how a character sounds without being told, especially if the author has something specific in mind or if what a character is saying doesn’t correlate to how they sound.

For example if you have a character who is talking about killing someone, but is overly cheery about it, it may be prudent to mention the tone since it’s not one commonly associated with the topic of murder.

You can also include a word about tone and/or pitch if there’s a specific way the character sounds, like:

  • Smooth/Rich/Velvety
  • Nasally/Breathy
  • Deep/Gruff/Gravelly/Guttural

Keep in mind that you also have great opportunities to show some of these sounds (depending on what you pick) with great descriptions, again keeping in mind how much focus you want to be put on this character’s voice.

Example: “When he spoke it was like he had swallowed a pail of beach sand.”

Final Words

From author Francine Prose, “Needless to say, many great novelists combine "dramatic” showing with long sections of the flat-out authorial narration that is, I guess, what is meant by telling. And the warning against telling leads to a confusion that causes novice writers to think that everything should be acted out … when in fact the responsibility of showing should be assumed by the energetic and specific use of language.”

Showing vs. telling is all about the choice of what’s going to work better for your story. Don’t be afraid to show. Don’t be afraid to tell. Just know there’s a place for each.


So, watching this new adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (‘Anne’ on CBC) and it occurs to me that including a “feminist” message (or any other political message) in your work is so much more effective when you don’t make a big song and dance about it.
In the original book series by L.M. Montgomery, the fact that Anne is a girl isnt treated as an impediment to being the cleverest student in class, achieving her dreams of being a writer or a teacher or going to university etc. Montgomery just allows the reader to take that for granted.
Of course she’s smart, of course she reads a lot, of course she’s one of the best students in class, of course she’ll get in to university. As a little girl reading that story, you’re never told that “because you’re a girl” you can’t do these things and you’ll need to fight “the system” all your life to get anywhere. Instead, you’re told that with hard work and determination and help from good friends and family you can achieve your dreams no matter your background.
That’s an inspiring message, an empowering message!
By making the “feminist message” so overt in this new adaptation, as opposed to Montgomery’s century old subtext, I feel they’re actually taking several steps back from an already powerful statement.

10 Biggest Mistakes I See in Early Drafts

meongs  asked:

Tips for the show don't tell rule?

  • Use all of the sense. Not just sight and sound. 
  • Try to give the reader the information to make the conclusion of what you’re trying to show rather than just outright telling them what it is. 
    • Eg: “She looked upset.” vs “Her make-up had gone thin around the eyes where she had wiped away tears.”
  • Make the reader feel what your character feels so that they understand it rather than simply knowing how they feel. 
    • Eg: “He was devastated when he didn’t get on them team.” vs “His eyes scanned all the way from the top of the team list all the way down to the very last name. Then he went up again. He read every word on that sheet of paper to make sure he hadn’t missed some detail to indicate a mistake or that would give him hope of a second chance. But the feeling of acid pouring down his throat had started after the first read through. His new soccer cleats would stay nice and clean this season.”
  • Use details, don’t be vague.
    • Eg: “By the way she acted I could tell she was a snob.” vs “The woman held her head up high above the rest, equal parts confidence and an apparent wish to keep her expensive hairstyle away from anyone else’s peasant-do’s. I also couldn’t decide if she was holding on to her purse with such desperation because she feared it would be snatched at any moment, or because it gave her a clean place to keep her hands.”
  • Make words work for their spot on the page. If you mean “massive” don’t say “really big”. Sometimes one specific, powerful word is better than many.
  • Use unique dialogue. You can tell a lot about a character by the way they speak and everyone has different patterns, tones, phrases and such when they speak. So by having the characters have their own unique way of speaking that fits with who they are you can show readers their characterization.
  • Be wary (but not too wary) of adverbs and adjectives. They great parts of speech that help us out in our everyday lives to get to the point but in descriptive writing they can make us lazy. But don’t go irradiating every last -ly word you can find. They still serve a purpose in your manuscript, just make sure that they actually belong.
  • Which leads to my last tip. DON’T OVER DO IT. Showing is great, really, but we don’t need to know every last detail about every last detail in the story. Sometimes you do need to just tell the reader something. Sometimes it’s perfectly fitting to be blunt. When all you do it tell it ends up sounding like a kid’s picture book that teaches them about animals (The pig is pink. The duck is yellow…) But when you over show it sounds like a bigot trying to out do their art snob friend at a gallery opening. It’s a balance that requires you to think hard about what it is that you’re trying to say and to decide what is the best way to get it across to the reader. Basically, writing good prose is akin to balancing skyscrapers of plates so thin they border on translucent in each hand while wading through a stream of torrential water, pushing on each leg as if it were…you know what? Writing is hard.