Neil O'Donnell

Neil O'Donnell

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Buffalo, New York, United States
Anthropologist, author, certified career coach, and musician who mixes all four interests as much as possible! Senior EOP Counselor at/EOP graduate of Buffalo State College.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Show don't Tell?

'Show don't Tell' your reader... words I've heard or seen in print for a long time. Authors, editors, agents, teachers, professors and a host of other "experts" bash writers over the heads with these words, like Yoda scolding Luke or something. Funny thing; I'm not so sure anyone understands what "show don't tell" actually means. Or, maybe it's better to say not everyone agrees on what those words mean.

This past week, I looked in books and on numerous blogs/sites in an attempt to find some consistency on this topic. I gotta tell ya, there are a lot of mixed opinions out there. In some instances, "experts" describe "showing" as dialogue and "telling" as narration. In other places, it was the exact opposite. What the Frak?!!!

I'm not gonna bother hammering writers with some diatribe on what I define as "showing" or "telling." Instead, I'll simply state this. Write what works for you. Read over authors whose work you've enjoyed. Do you prefer a lot of dialogue or a good amount of narration. I've actually revised a portion of writings at a publishers and/or agents suggestion only to have another publisher and/or agent say the structure was better the way I had it. Write in a style that works for you and get further direction from sources you trust (writer's groups) and the agent/publsiher that ultimately takes you under their wing. You should also pay heed to feedback from publishers and agents that give you any feedback. But remember, there will always be someone else out there that believes in "show don't tell" differently.

Annoying, isn't it?

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