Wright’s Writing Corner — Show, Don’t Tell

This week’s Wright’s Writing Corner has some sage advice by David Marcoe —

Show, don’t tell. Yes, oldest advice in the world, but one so often forgotten it helps to list it first. Often, in stories called “dense” or “philosophical,” characters will begin speaking more than acting, stopping to chide, declare or preach, often for an extended periods. The writer has so much to *say* and the simplest way is to put it in the character’s mouths.

The first and simplest mistake is that these conversations don’t naturally arise from what’s happening in the story; they feel like an interruption in what’s going on.

Read the whole thing here.

I recommend what he has to say, and wish my characters would follow his guidance voluntarily, and stop making speeches.

Jeesh! I tried reasoning with my characters, and when that failed, had to resort to threats. “Phaethon, shut UP already about Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage already! You have Space Pirates from the Black Hole of Cygnus X-1 to fight! I already have the alternate ending written where the Silent Oecumene wins, and Atkins runs off with your girl, and your whole life turns out to be a hallucination caused by a library malfuncation! You wanna ave the day and smooch the girl when the credits roll, then do your darned job and stop yacking!” — but by this point, he had tuned his sense filter to exclude me. Moral: never write characters bold enough to ignore their creators.