Post Reply Need Some Serious Writing Help Here!
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18 / M
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Posted 7/19/14
Hello everyone, like the title suggests, I need some serious writing help. I'm having some trouble with the show don't tell concept. You see people have told me to do this. But others have told me to be descriptive as well. I know there is way to do this but I don't know how.

So if you would all be kind enough to give me some advice on this and/r examples that would be very much appreciated. Please and thank you.

Also for anyone who's ever watched SAO, I'm trying to make something along the lines of it. But how can I make it more unique?
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19 / M / Rainbow's Feel
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Posted 7/19/14 , edited 7/19/14
If it looks like you're trying too hard to trying to be unique, you could mess up. Regardless if it's unique or not, what matters is the execution. A great concept could go wrong if it's huddled by poor execution, much like the movie I Am Legend. There are unoriginal ideas out there with great execution that stand out, like Nisekoi. In short, execution > concept.

But take my view with a grain of salt, if you please. You have to decide for yourself.
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20 / F / Winding Circle
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Posted 7/19/14
The thing with show don't tell is that you do need to balance your showing with some telling, otherwise the story isn't going to move forward. So reserve the telling which I call summarizing most of the times because that is what it is, for details that happen off screen that aren't important enough to show the scene for at that time. It's one of the things I struggle with the most, knowing when it's time to start summarizing and stop writing full scenes. Although there are other meanings of the phrase, that's the one that always sticks out in my mind.

Example of telling: Harry went to school that day and had a lengthy conversation with his friends about whether or not he should become an artist or not. They weighed the pros and cons. In the end, Harry decided it would be best to select another career to go to school with so that he could still support himself if his career as an artist fell through.

Example of showing: Harry sighed to himself as he searched for his friends upon reaching school. He had a dilemma on his hands and needed some help figuring things out. This was one thing he was not going to solve on his own. He needed advice. He ran his hand through his hair as he walked through the school rapidly, head down, intent on one destination.

"Hey Harry, what's up?" his friend, Larry, greeted him. He jumped, and looked around with wide eyes, but then chuckled to himself when he realized he'd reached their daily meeting place. Most of his friends were already there. No surprise, it was simply quite easier to arrive early to beat the masses of students that started appearing 15 minutes before class started.

"Nothing much. Just..." He sighed and sat down at the table, resting his head on his arms. "Mom and Dad are really pressuring me to take college seriously and not go to art school... And... I can understand their reasoning why, I mean being an artist doesn't mean I'll make money... but I still love it. What do you guys think?" he explained tiredly. The conversation had been the main topic the night before and despite being exhausted, lasted well past its expiration date and continued this morning.

"Well," Emily started thoughtfully, tapping her chin. "You could still do both, you could go to an college with a strong art program but with other decent careers..." Harry lifted his head and stared at her, tilting his head as he worked through the suggestion.

"Yeah!" Jake jumped in eagerly. "You could always be like an art museum curator or something! So you'd still be in art and you'd get lots of art classes to be one!" he expanded on the idea quickly, the others barely keeping up with his words.

(and the scene continues as such with details on how people are acting as they say things.)

Does that help? I came up with the scenario off the top of my head, though it stems from me wanting a career as a writer and therefore being unsure on if I want to go to college or not. See the difference in details between the two examples? Telling is good for passing of days and sometimes hours. It gives a reader a sense of time passing, and it keeps things from dragging out and becoming boring. For a good example, just read the Harry Potter books. JK Rowling, especially in the later books, is good at having time pass over the days, weeks, and months nothing really important happens. It does make it hard to keep track of the date unless you specify as a heading (Like in SAO) or write it in, but it's far better than dragging it out.

You should also looking into buying books. I went to Barnes and Noble and found books on writing. I then took pictures of the books I wanted and I'm going to make a wish list of them. One of them was "Showing and Telling" by Laurie Alberts. I opened the book and looked at the first page. One of the first things it says is that telling is actually necessary and you have to balance it with showing. If writing is going to be a serious thing for you, you should look into that. I didn't even think of getting books until recently, but I know that once I get my hands on them it'll help immensely. I already have a book called "Creating Character Emotions" that's helped a lot. Actually, that's a good tip come to think of it. The focus of that book is that it's good to show their emotion rather than just say that they're angry. Write that they clenched their fists and are speaking through gritted teeth rather than just sayign that they're angry. I suppose that's another example of how to show not tell.

As for making it unique... These days its impossible to write things completely uniquely. I heard at a fanfiction panel at ACEN in 2013 that pretty much any work these days is fanfiction in some way. Writing about mythology for example. Everything influences ideas. I once got a novel idea from going to Medieval times (I think that's what it was...) in Chicago. So what you want to do to make things unique is add a twist on it. For example, if you're doing something related to SAO, focus more on the psychological effects beyond people trying to survive and get out and those who are trying to live in the moment. Take something, add twists to it to make it yours. That's the best thing to do. Make the situation different. Don't just change names. Without knowing specifics, that's the best advice I can give you.

Also, in the end, it comes down to what sort of writing style you want to use. Do you want to be like Rowling? Or Tolkien? Or Stephen King? Or Mary Higgins Clark? So explore different authors, and even explore reading fanfiction. Fanfiction has been the best help to me on what sort of writing style I want to utilize. I think some authors rely more heavily on telling than showing, but it works for them.

If you want to see how I write, my writing style does vary a little depending on the story, check me out on Fanfiction.net. My user name is Me Llamo Berry, though I may not have written fanfiction you are interested in.
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31 / M / uter wall, level...
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Posted 7/19/14
ur trying too hard. just write and dont worry about being 'unique'.
write and write knowing you early stuff will suck.

try and get some close friends who are readers to read what you thought.

a story is a construction. its made, disassembled, then made again. the design is tweaked, worked and finished into somthing great.
but your still at the basic part. wirte, know it sucks, then fix it.

my .02
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18 / M
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Posted 7/19/14
Everyone thanks for your all your help and everything. But just so you know I have been writing for a while now. I'm asking this question because these were the kind of reviews I was getting. So I am not just starting out. I already have my suckish early stuff. So that's why I'm starting to focus on being unique. So please try to answer the question at hand. Also thanks you very much for your nice advice Ouzoathena11.
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20 / F / Winding Circle
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Posted 7/19/14
I'm glad I was able to help. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions or just want to talk about writing.
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Beyond The Boundary
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Posted 7/28/14
Actually, the best teacher of a writer is a writing. Rad something and compare it to your work, it always works.

And for the tips, you have to describe a writing with a smart way. For example:

She has two brother, she is twelve years old but always acts mature, and she likes his hot next-door friend.
would be better if
She always annoyed by her two little brother, and she never counted as the 'little' one even though she is twelve years old. But she really is not a 'little' one. How can she count as the 'little' while she fall in love with a hot-sixpacked-boy who lived next-door? She's a real mature inside.
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26 / M / Salt Lake City, Utah
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Posted 8/3/14 , edited 9/4/14
Hey there! You probably have already figured out your problem by now, or have received good advice, but I'm more than happy to add my perspective, as I'm slightly passionate about this concept.

To start, I can't stand that advice "show, don't tell." It drives me up the wall.

Descriptive writing is absolutely perfect and beautiful and illustrates exactly what you want the reader to be seeing play out in their mind. It IS showing. However, using twenty adjectives to describe a sunset is quite a ton of overkill. Paint the picture using only solid colors first, and see where the painting is lacking, so to speak. When you see areas that need more color, add the proper mix.

Descriptive writing also is fantastic in the right hands, since it can lose control pretty quickly. The problem a lot of people have with overly adjective-laden writing is that it does all the imagining for you. There is too accurate a picture to be imagined and it doesn't give me as the reader any room to play in and make it mine. That's part of the joy of reading. But at the proper dose you can animate any story into existence, and the reader finishes the life-giving process by filing in the gaps.

Humor, suspense, fear... These all share a lot of space between the lines in which to read which supplies the necessary shock to make it work. But those lose their luster when overplayed with too much information or description, so that's one aspect that really needs TLC when writing.

You just have to figure it out for how YOU enjoy doing it, and whether or not it's something YOU would enjoy reading. The second step is then seeing if others enjoy it too. Then you'll know how much to give or take.

Non-descriptive writing, on the other hand, is an entirely different art form. "show, don't tell" makes it sound like there's a right or wrong way, but all ways work! Sure, you don't want your creative writing to sound like a textbook, so there has to be a voice behind the words, regardless of how unique the material is . That's the beauty of writing!!! I cen mispel evrythng and you still get what I'm trying to say. That voice adds to the plot or character or whatever, via accents and dialects, new made-up words, or whatever, if that's how you choose to embellish. Writing with gaps in description like valleys between mountains can possibly lead to too much confusion and readers having to do too much work to fill in the spaces. Again, don't sound like a textbook by telling everything straight up, delve into psyche at times and show how they feel instead of tell third-person-ly.

"He looked sad" works with proper context, but when embellished, it could be "He watched his feet slide against the pavement as he slowly shuffled up the drive, his arms dangling lifelessly by his sides." It paints a more in-depth picture, but only when you want it to. You don't have to do that for every character all the time, only when the story would benefit from it!

Basically, it all comes down to personal preference and whether you get the amount of point across that you would like. Everybody struggles with it, but when you figure out and get a pattern down for your SAO-ish story, it's going to be fantastic!

Happy imagining, and good luck!! I hope that helps a bit
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Posted 8/7/14 , edited 8/7/14
Mmm, I'm also struggling to be unique. It's kind of hard. There are a limited number of stories to tell, at least in their basic form. And the thing about art is that it is never the solitary revelation of one person. It exists in conversation with other pieces and ideas. Borrowing and stealing is not a bad thing. That is why citations exist. We build our ideas out of a shared pool. So uniqueness is always going to be a bit of a false ideal and you shouldn't worry too much about it.

On the other hand, we all have our own lives and our own sets of experiences, so as long as you really consider your own experience and understanding of the world and bring it to bear on your work, it will be unique. Even if I were to come up with a skeleton plot for a story and we were both to sit down and flesh it out, the end results would be different. We would unconsciously emphasize different things as they appealed to us. If you want to make your story unique, ask yourself, what is really important to me? And then find a way to get your readers to care about it too.

In my mind, the whole show don't tell thing has to do with judgement vs observation. But it's not 100% useful. I think you need both. Still, if you offer too many judgements and not enough observations, the reader will feel alienated. Part of keeping the reader interested is including them in the process by allowing them to make their own judgements.

Also, I'd like to point out, since there seems to be some confusion, descriptive writing and the show don't tell idea are not conflicting ideas. They are the same thing. Telling is when you don't bother to give evidence by describing things.

Telling: He was having a bad day. [okay, great, why should I believe you?]

Showing: He walked slowly with his head down. His shirt was wrinkled and his face was pale and haggard. [Okay, not only do I know that he's in a bad way, but I also feel kind of sorry for him.]
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Posted one day ago , edited one day ago
I say the best thing to do is to wing it with concepts and see what you execute the best. For me, that's, so far, comedy. I think descriptive means using more elaborate uses of vocabulary. I'll show you what I mean.

As Mike walked outside, in the early rise of the sun, he, in his pajamas, grabbed his newspaper and looked over to see his neighbor, James, scurry out of the confines of his home. As Mike took notice, he let out a sigh of disgust and said "God. Why the fuck are you always so odd in the morning? Last time it was because you just beat Donkey Kong Country. The last time was because you managed to do a back flip over a speeding vehicle. When the hell are you gonna stop doing crazy or useless things and acting like you just saved the world?"

Notice the way that I didn't just say "he looked at James and let out a sigh while feeling disgusted at his neighbors happy behaviour". While it can be used, it takes too much more space to do that much for one description. This also includes describing the pajamas that Mike was wearing. No need. Just say he was wearing pajamas.
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