Alice • 16
Blog thing where I doodle, talk silly things and reblog the various artwork and artists I stumble upon on my dash

I also write: you can find all that weird stuff on this blog.

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

slitheringink:

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.

-Morgan

(via referenceforwriters)

ART HISTORY MEME; 9 paintings:
Still Life with White Roses, Vincent van Gogh [4/9]

(via englishsnow)

yakimi:

timothydelaghetto:

turnerejg:

fleshbeing:

veralynn23

Valerie Hegarty

Famous paintings come to life in 3D sculptures of nature’s destructive tendencies.

Wow I really like this

Wow

is this what the gallery in the game IB looked like ? 

(Source: fem-arts, via my-dick-is-also-a-titan)

helenadatcheryknows:

90% trashkin 10% marijuanakin

chafffer:


"I don’t wanna be your sister, meathead."

Dumb doodles for the coolest show~

chafffer:

"I don’t wanna be your sister, meathead."

Dumb doodles for the coolest show~

(via cophinescockerspaniels)

sailorp00n:

rosydrops:

Cleaning
clean bathroom tips
organize your closet
how to fix a leaky faucet
how to keep a clean kitchen
removing stains from your carpet
Money
how to coupon
what to do when you can’t pay your bills
see if you’re paying too much for your cell phone bill
how to save money
How to Balance a Check Book
How to do Your Own Taxes
Health
how to take care of yourself when you’re sick
things to bring to a doctor’s appointment
what to expect from your first gynecologist appointment
how to make a doctor’s appointment
how to pick a health insurance plan
a list of stress relievers
how to get free therapy

how to remove a splinter


how to avoid a hangover

Emergency
what to do if you get pulled over by a cop
a list of hotlines in a crisis
things to keep in your car in case of an emergency

how to do the heimlich maneuver

Food
recipes that take 30 minutes or less
Yummy apple thing
Brownie in a cup
Cookie in a cup
French bread pizza
Egg tacos
panera mac n cheese recipe
different salad recipes
harry potter recipes
healthy recipes
various cookie recipes
chocolate cupcakes w/ eggless cookie dough topping
s’mores pie 
nutella hot chocolate
peanut butter nutella swirl cookies
cookie in a mug
starbucks holiday drinks
fruit leathers 
brownie in a mug
how to make ramen 1000x better
eggless cookie dough (not to bake, just to eat)
make recipes using things you already have
how to put together a very fancy cheese plate 
make different flavored lemonades
various desert recipes
make tiny chocolate chip cookies
20 dishes every cook should know
learn how to make your own tea
Macaroni and cheese in a mug
Study snacks (2)
40 on-the-go breakfast recipes
Home
what the hell is a mortgage?
first apartment essentials checklist
how to care for cacti and succulents
the care and keeping of plants 
Getting an apartment
Job
time management
create a resume
find the right career
how to pick a major

how to avoid a hangover

how to interview for a job

how to stop procrastinating

How to write cover letters
Travel
ULTIMATE PACKING LIST
Traveling for Cheap 
Travel Accessories
The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase
How To Read A Map
How to Apply For A Passport
How to Make A Travel Budget
Better You
read the news
leave your childhood traumas behind
how to quit smoking

how to get a book published


how to knit


how to use a polaroid camera


how to solve a rubik’s cube


how to stop biting your nails


how to stop procrastinating


how to stop skipping breakfast


how to stop micromanaging


how to stop avoiding asking for help


how to stop swearing constantly


how to stop being a pushover

learn another language
how to improve your self-esteem
how to sew
learn how to embroider
how to love yourself
learn how to do yoga
100 tips for life
learn how to make your own cards

I’ve been living on my own for almost 4 years now and I have like 50 tabs open.
Bless the person who put together this post, it ought to be made into a pamphlet for everyone in highschool/college.

sailorp00n:

rosydrops:

Cleaning

Money

Health

Emergency

Food

Home

Job

Travel

Better You

I’ve been living on my own for almost 4 years now and I have like 50 tabs open.

Bless the person who put together this post, it ought to be made into a pamphlet for everyone in highschool/college.

(via helenadatcheryknows)

bluekomadori:

The tutorial of how I achieve watercolor effect in Sai! :) I highly recommend using real watercolor paintings (your own or ones found on the internet) as reference.

And here you can find a few useful links: 

  1. You can download the Sai file of this picture here: link 
  2. Video process of painting another picture: link
  3. The old watercolor tutorial: link
  4. Sai brushes (none of them is made by me) link + file you need to open them in Sai: link
  5. Awesome watercolor brushes made by Kyle T Webster: link

Here’s the finished painting: link

(via kyoukorpse)

beatfist:

Heartbeat

beatfist:

Heartbeat

snuffysbox:

This palette was made for the rainbow jacket. 

derangedoyley:

creepy schoolboy hannibal and bb!dire ravenstag (edited as per request)

derangedoyley:

creepy schoolboy hannibal and bb!dire ravenstag (edited as per request)

(via malevolentmask)