Monday, September 20, 2010

Showing or Telling? I don't even know anymore...

I read this article , it's old but I only recently found the link on Absolute Write (so it's new to me), and it got me thinking a lot about how I write. After much thought I'm honestly just confused.

This is what I do. When I'm writing I write, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know if I'm telling or showing.

Too much showing makes the character seem entirely disengaged from their world. A character that doesn't pause to reflect or think becomes a list of actions. A character that doesn't say "I love this show." or stop and wonder why they feel so bad even when things are going well feel to me like they are floating in an endless world of actions strung together without a single self reflection.

But is a character that thinks about things just an endless dull teller? A lecturer on the inner world which no one cares about? Is that what I'm doing?

What I try to do is have the character do something but also think about why they are doing it. I put on a page their unvoiced concerns and pit-of-the-stomach feelings.

I couldn't even begin to tell you what I'm doing and whether it's any good or not because I have no idea. The more time I spend on Absolute Write the more I feel like I'm doing everything wrong.


  1. You're doing it RIGHT.

    I think you need a good balance of showing and telling too much of either and it becomes dull and boring. One of the books I'm trying to read right now mixes huge sections (1-2 pages) of telling with equally huge sections of showing and it's driving me slowly insane. You have to get the mix just right but you also have to be comfortable with the way your writing. there is no point following all the 'rules' if your writing ends up seeming forced and you stop enjoying it so much.

    As for AW making you feel like you're getting it wrong... welcome to the club. that's why I'm not around there so much at the moment. I'm enjoying working on my planning and don't want to put up with all the 'you should just get in a write it' comments or other things that make me feel like I shouldn't be writing. Take from AW what will help you right now and ignore anything thing else. Eventually you'll hit a point when you're ready to hear the other stuff but until then, ignore it.

  2. :) Thanks! I hope I've found a good balance. Someday I may post a page or two, see what people think.

    I'm glad I'm not hte only one with an AW inferiority complex ;) I'm trying to pay less attention! I swear!