Tuesday, April 14, 2015

As Anton Chekov stated, it is important to "Show, don't tell." This is advice every writer has heard numerous times. Showing makes the reader feel that they are truly a part of the story. 

Example of telling:  "The pizza was delicious." Really? How is that going to keep me, the reader, engaged?  Instead, show me.

Example of showing: "Stringy, white mozzarella cheese bubbled over the spicy red tomato sauce while pepperoni was piled in thick layers on top. The cheese dripped over the edge of the slice, and black olives sat on each piece of pepperoni. With every bite, I was able to savor the individual ingredients. It was better than I imagined." As a reader, you now have my attention...and my stomach grumbling.

For writing to be effective and engaging, it is important to show the story. When the author shows the story, it allows the reader to become part of the book and experience what the characters are experiencing. It is important to have a balance between showing and telling. Telling states facts and observations. Showing goes a bit deeper.

Ways to show the story…

·         Use dialogue: This is one of the easiest ways to engage the reader and allow them to see the story through the eyes of the characters.
·         Use descriptive language: This includes using adjectives, adverbs, and sensory words. However, adding too much can overwhelm the reader.
·         Add specific details when possible: This makes it easier for the reader to visualize the story. Specific details should be used to describe locations as well as the characters. However, at times, you do want to leave certain things to the reader’s imagination.

If you try to envision your story as a movie, it might help you. Every scene does not need to be tied up neatly before moving on to the next one. This can create cliffhangers, which will keep the reader engaged. However, be sure to show the cliffhanger. You can draw the reader in even more by describing the lighting and music that may accompany the scene. Giving your characters something active to do is also helpful. Try to place your reader smack dab in the story.

Keep in mind that it is not possible, or recommended, to show every scene. If you did, your book would be thousands of pages long. It would be hard to find someone interested in reading, or even editing, that book! Though the reader is not technically inside the mind of your characters, that is how they should feel.

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