Thursday, July 13, 2017

Telling / Showing

Found a great article - which I've promptly lost, but now have found and inserted link at the bottom of today's post - about telling and showing. Needed to remind myself in order to fully explain the concepts to a client. I'd never seen it explained this way - and for some unfathomable reason it seems to have struck a chord with me.

'Using a spatial metaphor, the showing mode is also called a narrative with “small distance,” presumably because readers get the impression that they are somehow near the events of the story, while the telling mode correspondingly evokes the impression of a “large distance” between readers and the events.'

Showing - nearer to the story. I like that. Means, to me, that I'm up front and personal with what's happening, staring right in the face of the antagonist and protagonist, and hanging by my fingernails to the edge as I 'breathe' what's happening right before my eyes.

Telling - ok. It's an ok process. But I'm pretty far away from what I'm reading. I can see what's going on, the broader spectrum I suppose, and I can see the characters. But I'm a hands-in-the-face personality. I really like to see the sweat pouring from the heroine's brow as the villain, spittle splattering my face as he cackles his glee at undoing good.

Ah - seems too easy. But I like the visual. I'm a visual writer/teacher, too. I like to close my eyes and see what's happening. I don't rely on my writing imagination; I rely on my visual imagination.

Well, I must be running along. Going to play with a friend and his characters.



  1. Thanks, this is a good way of looking at it. Everyone says "show don't tell" but I've yet to see a really helpful way of talking about the difference.