Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Andy Meisenheimer on Show and Tell

As a guest blogger on Rachelle Gardner's Blog, Zondervan fiction editor Andy Meisenheimer gives this and more on Show versus Tell:

[Showing is...] Letting the audience put together the clues; presenting simply a sensory experience through the lenses of a character’s viewpoint. Passing no judgment, but allowing the characters to speak for themselves.

Down in the comments, he adds this:

Telling can be very useful. Think about when you tell a story to a friend over coffee. "So, my brother, right? He's totally paranoid. Get this--yesterday..." And instead of showing me paranoid, you told it to me, but that's the only way to make the following story funny or interesting or whatever. Telling is usually reflective of your point of view character.

So he's using "Tell" to include viewpoint attitude or tone, rather than just being a level of detail or summary in the writing.



Jill Wheeler said...

I found myself telling a lot today. I had to delete several lines, thinking, "Well, duh, they know Shawna's excited to see Donnie. She just dumped her cookies all over his lap!" Heeeeeee. That sounded bad.

Shawn S. Deggans said...

I think there are times when it's best just to tell something. For instance, I'd rather just know that the woman in the headscarf walking the goat down the path is Afgahni or Iraqi rather than try to work out the differences with details I wouldn't know anyway.

Dal Jeanis said...

Yes, that's especially true in SciFi or fantasy.

I find Raymond Chandler much harder to decode than his contemporaries would have. The main character is standing on the street in a mixed black-white neighborhood and describes what someone is wearing, and he expects the reader to know the person's race by it.

Sorry, but my knowledge of black - er, Negro (?) - cultural styles in 1950 is sketchy, at best.