Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Show Your Readers the Way

The other day I talked about the difference between showing versus telling, and why showing your readers your story’s world is so important. Often writers on the verge of understanding the concept of showing versus telling will sometimes successfully show with their writing, but then they ruin it with a follow-up telling phrase. It’s like they realize that they need to show, but they either don’t trust their writing skill at showing or they don’t trust that their reader will get it.

For example, if I write, “I close my eyes and bury my whole head into the folds of my arms. The entire class is staring at me. I want to die.” This is showing and leaves the reader to figure out what the character is feeling. But too often a new writer will follow-up this phrase with a telling statement like, “I am so embarrassed.” This mix of showing versus telling is patronizing to the reader. It’s like you’re saying, “Hey, I’ve given you clues to figure out what going on in my hero’s head, but I don’t think you’re smart enough to figure it out.” This hurts your story and turns the reader off.

When it comes to showing instead of telling, you have to trust your writing and your readers. As I said in my post of the other day, let your writing show us everything about your characters and setting. If you want to transport your reader into the pages of your book, you have to “show” them the way.

In addition to showing, what are some other ways to transport your readers into your story?

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