Monday, April 13, 2009

Tell, Don't Show?

Does the title of this post feel like a cardinal sin to anyone else?

The author of this article teaches screen-writing, but his message is worthwhile for any writer. Make us sympathize with the protagonist! Even if it means using some no-no tools to do do it...

Let me know if you link to the article, or if it was helpful for your own writing!

1 comment:

Anneliese Kelly said...

I think the most important point this writer makes is that identification with the character is the ultimate goal (in screenwriting and--even more-so--in romance fiction). So "rules" are only useful insofar as they allow the writer to hammer home that connection.

The specifics of writing rules are different for different media, of course. But I can see correlations between his rules for screenwriting and genre novelists' rules. No head-hopping, for instance. That's a rule I really do believe in--create a sustained connection between the reader and character by hewing closely to the character's POV.

I think an occasional "tell-y" adverbial phrase won't ruin the book if you've got strong characters and compelling situations. But we need to be careful to never throw them in without consideration. Does this "sadly" or "miserably" or "with disdain" reveal something you can't get across in any other way? If so, keep it in. And be careful of overuse.

Not that overuse of adverbs hurt JK Rowling any.