Friday, 31 October 2014

Show don't tell

Apparently I am the last wannabe writer on the planet to hear about the maxim "show don't tell". 
It's a real gem. Without it my writing would slip into yawn worthy narrative. 

So, rather than jawing on about what it is lets demonstrate - show rather than tell. 
For example, instead of saying Neil was really tall we can write "Neil folded himself into the drivers seat of his 3 series".

Take this longer albeit simple example. 

   As he opened the barn door he heard a noise coming from inside. Suddenly filled with fear he stood rooted on the spot. Was that Sam or the gunman inside the barn? As he stood there wondering if he should turn and run a chicken rushed out passed him 

We are told he is scared and of what. The fear is resolved because it was just a chicken. 

Instead of simply rewording the passage we need to treat it as a scene. We could rewrite it as follows. 

   The barn door finally yielded to the force of his shoulder. The eerie screech of rusted hinges sending shivers down his spine. 
   Eyes searching the gloomy interior he suddenly took a step back, "Sam, it that you?"
No reply. His ears strained to pick up the sound of movement. Someone is in here he thought, I definitely heard a noise. Nothing but the sound of his heart as it beat like a drum against his ribs. 
   His mind raced. It can't be Sam he reasoned. His mouth suddenly dry he realised the only other person around could at that very second be pointing a gun at him. 
   The realisation turned his feet to lead and any thought of escape thwarted.  
  A flurry of feathers at his feet..... Etc. 

Anyway, that's the general idea. Get the reader to sense - hear, see, smell feel - the story. 

One more big sleep and I am still so thin on skills. 

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