SHOW DON’T TELL!
SHOW DON’T TELL!
#11 in the Memoirabilia podcast series on How to Write Memoir
based on the book, “Don’t Write Your MEmoir without ME’
Along with dialogue, “show don’t tell” is the other command that makes workshop participants’ faces turn pale, and active minds go blank.
Their eyes downcast, folks start sinking lower in their seats, almost sliding under the table in the hope I won’t ask them if they know the difference.
Why? What’s the big deal?
Well, in the simplest terms, it’s writing “Johnny charged down the street” instead of “Johnny ran down the street”. Or “Sandy gunned the car as if someone was shooting at it” instead of “Sandy drove down the road in a huge hurry”.
“Oh, that’s easy,” you say. “I’ll just grab the Thesaurus when I’m editing.”
Good idea. But “Show, don’t Tell” is about more than finding better suited adjectives for bland ones, or using similes and metaphors.The reason for “Show, don’t tell” is the same as the reason for using dialogue. It has to do with that “movie mind” world we live in today. Watching things happen is more powerful than being told what happened.
Just about every day, most of us meet with, or interact with others. We get to know them, love them or hate them based on what they say and DO. So, when we write memoir, we need to SHOW the reader what those people are DOING instead of just TELLING what they are doing. If our mind is the only one our readers hear and see, then the reader gets a skewed image of the other characters: they get only the narrator’s opinion of them. As I see it, that’s the danger behind those memoirs that rely too much on narration and reflection. Everything is one-sided, unless you are very skilled.
What you’ve just read above is only an excerpt from Chapter 11 of “Don’t Write Your MEmoir without ME’. Want to know more about showing and not just telling? Listen to the full podcast above, or better yet, buy yourself a copy of “Don’t Write Your MEmoir without ME’ from my author’s website at http://www.vigaboland.com/store so you can refer to it time and again!
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