As my last post may have hinted, I have found a job. I am now working as a short-order cook at an IHOP. This means that, of all the training and life skills I received in college, it was my time working in the dining halls that proved most useful to me. Ah well. It is hard work, and most days my legs feel like they’re going to fall off, but…money. It’s also a fitting job for me, considering how many books I’ve discussed with my friends while eating late-night pancakes.
Anyway, about writing.
I’ve talked so much about the concept of “Show Don’t Tell.” There are so many posts, and I know you’re not going to go back and read all of them, so I shouldn’t even link to them. But I’ll give you a few, just for the hell of it. Here’s one and then there’s this one, and there’s another here.
The thing is, after all that preaching about the concept, I found I’ve made a mistake. I failed to specify when you should Show instead of Telling. This occurred to me because I was rereading Hellbound, and I realized that sometimes it’s the narrator’s job to Tell. That’s what description is, after all. Sometimes you’re going to write something like this:
Sally looked at the old house on the corner and shuddered. It looked ready to fall apart, with boarded up windows and peeling paint. Plus, no matter what time of day it was or what the weather was like, that particular house always seemed to be in the shadows.
The above paragraph employs description to inform the reader. That form of Telling is okay. Sometimes you just need to tell the reader what a person or place looks like, who said what, what someone is thinking, etc. You will notice, however, that the first sentence employs more of the Showing technique. It implies that Sally is scared of the house, or creeped out by it, without explicitly saying, “Sally was scared of the old house on the corner.” There is a difference between exposition and “Telling” in the bad way. A lot of it comes from instinct and practice. And the whole reason I’m bringing this up is so you know that I am not an advocate for trying to “Show” your readers every last little detail of the book. I don’t even know if that’s possible.
Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say. Have a comic.
Word of the Day: Carapace (n) – a bony or chitinous shield or shell covering some or all of the dorsal part of an animal, as of a turtle.