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#atozchallenge: S is for Show, Don’t Tell #fiction #writing #quotes

 Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing

I’ve been doing the AZ rounds, and enjoying myself, making new discoveries, meeting new readers and writers. What about you?

Today on Amlokiblogs I want to discuss the sage advice given to writers, “Show don’t tell.”

Show, don’t tell is a technique often employed in various kinds
of texts to enable the reader to experience the story through action,
words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author’s
exposition, summarization, and description. The goal is not to drown the
reader in heavy-handed adjectives, but rather to allow readers to
interpret significant details in the text. The technique applies equally
to nonfiction and all forms of fiction, including literature, speech, movie making, and playwriting.

I have to admit that this piece of advice/ technique has improved my writing, but one of the things I learned is that the difficult part of the skill lies not in “Show don’t tell’, but in making a choice: what and when do you show, and when do you tell? Sometimes I end up summarising an important event in my story while writing about a minor one in a detailed scene. Does this ever happen to you?

Here are a few writers talking about this technique

“Show the readers everything, tell them
― Ernest
to say, many great novelists combine “dramatic” showing with long
sections of the flat-out authorial narration that is, I guess, what is meant by
telling. And the warning against telling leads to a confusion that causes
novice writers to think that everything should be acted out — don’t tell us a
character is happy, show us how she screams “yay” and jumps up and
down for joy — when in fact the responsibility of showing should be assumed by
the energetic and specific use of language.”
― Francine Prose
  “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me
the glint of light on broken glass.”
― Anton Chekhov

“You don’t write about the horrors of war.
No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying in the road.”
― Richard Price
Have you ever come across writing which could do better with less showing and more telling? Which of the quotes above do you agree with and why?
Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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