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Post Reply How to properly show in your novels rather than tell?
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 6/12/16
Let me know if a thread like this one exist or not.
Thanks a bunches.


Showing not telling is very hard for me to do when it comes to writing. I have a hard time trying to be descriptive with my work. Anyone else feels like this? Got any advice on how to properly show not tell in your novels?

Enjoy!!!
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Posted 6/12/16
I don't think you can do that in a novel. You can maybe put subtle hints to things to show that they relate to other things.
I don't really think it's possible to show without telling in writing. If you show it it's by writing it which is just telling.

It works far better in tv shows and in anime.
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Posted 6/12/16

ZavinRoyalheart wrote:

I don't think you can do that in a novel. You can maybe put subtle hints to things to show that they relate to other things.
I don't really think it's possible to show without telling in writing. If you show it it's by writing it which is just telling.

It works far better in tv shows and in anime.


To show in writing is pretty much to let the readers see what is going on in the story. Simply telling the reader what happens in the story doesn't give them the satisfaction of enjoying the story.


Saying in the story "the dog ran" doesn't make the reader enjoy the story the same way as "the dog, quick on it's feet, hurried down the sidewalk with all it's might" would.
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Posted 6/12/16

qualeshia3 wrote:


ZavinRoyalheart wrote:

I don't think you can do that in a novel. You can maybe put subtle hints to things to show that they relate to other things.
I don't really think it's possible to show without telling in writing. If you show it it's by writing it which is just telling.

It works far better in tv shows and in anime.


To show in writing is pretty much to let the readers see what is going on in the story. Simply telling the reader what happens in the story doesn't give them the satisfaction of enjoying the story.


Saying in the story "the dog ran" doesn't make the reader enjoy the story the same way as "the dog, quick on it's feet, hurried down the sidewalk with all it's might" would.


See. That's why the story I'm writing isn't a book. It's a show. I don't describe in my writing.
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Posted 6/12/16


So, your story is actually like a play or something similar to it.
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Posted 6/12/16

qualeshia3 wrote:



So, your story is actually like a play or something similar to it.


No. It's like a tv show I plan to pitch. Animated. Anime inspired. If it does happen it won't be for at least 10 more years.
In fact in 2017 it'll have been 10 years since we came up with the idea and only recently does it look like it could be a good idea.
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That's cool. I hope everything works out for you.
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qualeshia3 wrote:



That's cool. I hope everything works out for you.


I hope your novel works out too.
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Thank you.
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Posted 6/12/16
Its easier to point out "well this is telling, not showing" in someone's writing than it is to describe it in the abstract, however, the fundamental point is to remember your descriptions. Remember that your job as a writer is to create convincing characters and create settings which feel alive.

What would make a more believable character? Which one would create a character that would get you to say "yeah, I agree. This guy is a jerk"?

-John was a jerk

or

-John threw Tommy against the wall as he brushed past. However, as he made his way down the hallway, he heard the voice of a teacher behind him. "Are you okay Thomas? What happened?" Spinning around, John threw a glare towards him. A silent threat. Muttering quietly, Tommy replied "I just tripped." John smiled. He had the kid in the palm of his hand.

Of course its the same with settings. Don't just say "the house was nice", say what makes it nice. Paint a picture.

However, also remember that all rules are made to be broken. Sometimes, a quick statement just makes more sense if you don't really want to focus on something. If John isn't a very important character, just saying that he is a jerk may suffice. You just need to have a reason to break the rule.

I'd love to see you post some of your writing sometime. I'm dying to know what your writing is like
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Let me give you a taste of my writing skills. This is a story I worked on a while back.
Excuse my poor grammar.

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Posted 6/12/16 , edited 6/12/16
I really like your hook. Solid work.


As far as "show don't tell" goes, take this sentence for example:

"Looking back then looking forward, she can see a narrow path in both directions."

I usually try to avoid saying "she saw" or "she smelled" or "she tasted". It takes you out of the character's head and feels like narration (which you don't want when you are writing in first person). Instead I usually write something like:

"Looking back, then forwards again, a narrow path stretched out in both directions."


Similar things are found within a lot of the non-dialogue. Another example would be in these sentences:

"She was a bit nervous then turned back around and walked forward."
"Katherina was happy to see other people yet still scared a little bit."

Now, its fine to say that she was nervous (although not exactly ideal), but does the rest of the paragraph and the rest of the story get that across? I think you could do more to show that instead of just telling us :P

I'll drop in a little excerpt from my novel just for the hell of it. I'm trying to get across how Samantha is nervous but wants to put on an air of confidence to ease the nervousness of the people who are helping her. I do say that she is anxious, but I try to make sure that the same idea is conveyed without just relying on that word.

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Thank you so much.
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Posted 6/24/16
The only thing I can think of that would really apply to this is to describe people/things in small bits via actions. For example, if I have a new character I need to describe I'll offer a sentence of general description, but I won't carry on and take a break from the story to bore the reader with several paragraphs. Instead, I'll next describe their mouth by adding that detail as their 'thin lips curled into a smile as they jested.' etc.


"I suppose you could ask some of the soldiers?" Philana suggested, giving a nod towards a small group who were passing by. "That tall one's cute."

Emi brushed a few stray hairs from in front of one of her deep blue eyes and grinned at Philana. She was always making suggestions that involved talking to the soldiers, or at least the handsome ones. "I don't want to be told about it," Emi replied, grinning once more at Philana's disappointed expression. "I want to see it for myself."

"I swear that that's the only reason you want to join the Alliance," Philana said, rolling her brilliant green eyes and setting off along the corridor. "Opportunities are rare for anyone other than the Military to visit the Earth and for good reason. Why would someone want to go boil in the sand with the Earthlings?"

"And I swear the only reason you joined was to stare at the guys all day," Emi retaliated as she followed her.

"Have you not seen some of them?" Philana laughed, flicking her thick long brown hair over her shoulder.


Something you are doing, though, which I noticed I was guilty of when I wanted to get back into writing, is switching tenses a lot.

" Adam walked towards her and places his hand on her shoulder." Adam walked is past tense, and places is present. It should either be 'Adam walks towards her and places his hand on her shoulder', or 'Adam walked towards her and placed his hand on her shoulder.'

Present tense is better for keeping you in the moment, and could help make things more exciting, though past tense is easier and probably a little more commonly used. I need to get around to redoing all of mine in one tense at some point before I continue with it, as it's very jarring when the tense switches whilst you're reading. The entire work should really be in the same tense, unless you were doing it for effect with like present tense for most of it but switching to past tense during flash back chapters.
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Posted 6/24/16


Thanks.
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