Writing: Show vs. Tell

I received my report and markup from my beta reader and it was almost all great news except for one thing.  Too much Tell, not enough Show.  I have seen different opinions on the Show vs Tell conundrum.  Most stories require at least some Tell but from what I understand, it should never take away from the story being told or deviate from the timeline.  I’ve spent the last three days trying to wrap my head around what this means for my story. The bottom line is that I have a great story, great characters and plots and pacing that work.  What I need to do now is find a way to Tell what I need to tell without getting in the way of the Show.

It’s set in a different world and there are many things that need to be explained but how do I do that without deviating from the story or spending large chunks of time explaining things?  Create new dialogues that discuss this information?  Forget about explaining within the story and just include a glossary?  Leave it up to the reader to decide on details for certain things?  Some or all of the above or something else I’ve not quite hit upon.

My beta reader said research is my best friend and I have been haunting my local library checking out books on writing and editing.  It’s been a real eye opener and I could kick myself for not doing this sooner (like before i started writing the first story down).

The hardest aspect for me this week has been coming to terms with the idea that instead of a finished story ready for sending out into the world, I’ve taken a huge step back.  I’ve been angry that instead of researching ideas such as Show vs tell or dialogue, I’ve just been blithely writing along without any thought except to tell a story.  The good news is that the other two stories I have written seem to show more than tell and perhaps will take less time to whip into shape.  And as I learn, I grow and improve as a writer.

I have a lot of work to do on this story before it’s ready for querying.  Fortunately, I love writing and enjoy hard work.  I had one thought this morning that there areas in my story where Showing more will allow me to add more emotional resonance and illustrate more in-depth conflict between characters.  Definitely a good thing.

I love this world and these characters.  So even though it has been a tough emotional week, I’m really looking forward to spending more time with them! B

 

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