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  Show, Don't Tell (Doll Article)

(April 24, 2007 by SilverLily22 Send DollMail Send Email )
On writing and how to follow that timeless rule--Show, don't tell.
In kindergarten, you probably had a chance to participate in something called "Show and Tell". That was where you brought in something special and shared it with your classmates. You might have brought in a favorite toy or a shell you found on the beach. Regardless of what you brought, what you did was probably the same every time. You stood up in front of the class and said, "This is my (whatever it was) and I brought it for Show and Tell because (whatever reason you brought it for)."

Show and Tell can be a lot of fun when you're a little kid, but as a writer, showing and telling are two different things. Here's a good way to think about it: when you show a reader something, you let them read about the characters doing whatever they're doing to learn something you want them to know. It's like putting on a movie for them. When you just tell them, it's like listening to you blab on and on about your characters and not put in any action. Action is what keeps a story going. Without it, your reader is going to fall asleep and never finish your story.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Example 1: Emily had long mahogany brown hair that reached her butt. It was perfectly straight and usually kept in a braid so that it only reached the middle of her back. The braid was kept tied with a wide blue ribbon that Emily had bought at a craft store but decided to use for her hair instead because it was pretty.

Example 2: Emily ran a brush through her brown hair. It always took so long! Sometimes she thought her mother was right. Maybe she should get it cut. But no, she liked her hair the way it was. Once she'd gotten all the tangles out, she began braiding it. When she finished, she tied it with a blue ribbon. Finally, she flipped the braid over her shoulder and left the room.

The first example there is telling. The second one is showing. Example 1 = Writing NO-NO. Do not write huge descriptive paragraphs like that! It's boring. Instead, try to mix your descriptions into the action of the story, like in the second example. It doesn't tell you everything about Emily's hair straight out but you can tell that it's 1) long (it takes a long time to brush and her mom wants her to get it cut) 2) brown (that's said straight out), and 3) braided and tied with a ribbon (again, that's said straight out but the paragraph shows Emily braiding and tying. It doesn't just say that she usually braided her hair and tied it with a ribbon.

I'm not trying to criticize anyone's writing on The Doll Palace. I just want to help everyone learn to write better, because there's always room for improvement. :-)

Comments
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SILLYx_LoveSon

20/Female
United Kingdom
Posted On: May 3, 2007
Very well said. you have an excellent point!

~lily
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Xiaolin_Showdo

21/Female
AZ
Posted On: May 3, 2007
good job. youre right
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shy_girl_9

34/Female
Castleton, IN
Posted On: April 28, 2007
I always hate it when people say stuff like this,

"(insert name here) had long brown hair and blue eyes, her boyfriend was hawt..." I always went to burn the story!

~Colleen
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