Thursday, August 4, 2011

Show vs. Tell: Examples

I haven't posted a lot of my writing up here. I like to play things close to the chest, but I'm working on a new piece and thought I'd post a couple of excerpts because I think they're good examples of show vs. tell.

Example 1:
This is the first line of my new work:
Only in Scott’s Valley, Connecticut would kids stand outside in the misting April rain to get into a barn.

One sentence and you learn it's a small town, probably remote and farm-ish, and the MC is not too happy about being there.

A really bad example of telling:
Scott's Valley, Connecticut is a small town. The biggest event to happen is a barn party. I hate it here.

Example 2:
When we are introduced to Hallie:
I find Hallie with her arms draped around a boy, one our mom would love, with long hair and fake tattoos drawn on his arms in Sharpie marker. They’re using the cramped quarters as an excuse to dance with their bodies pressed together.

Here we learn Hallie and the MC are sisters, and Hallie has a taste for bad boys.

A really bad example of telling:
Hallie is my sister and always picks the wrong guys to date.

Example 3:
Showing in dialogue.
"I would tell you to get my good side, except I don’t have one. They’re both equally appealing.”

This character is attractive, knows it, and isn't ashamed to tell everyone he knows it.

A really bad example of telling:
He is conceited.

I love show vs. tell examples. If you have some good ones, please share in the comments!


DRC said...

These are good examples. Some writers really struggle with the whole Show Vs Tell thing...

Rachel Menard said...

It's something I always try to fix in the 2nd pass of my drafts. Another writer friend suggested reviewing all sentences with "is" or "was" and see if there is a different way to communicate the information.