As a writer, I now have the ability to surf the web or go to the library to research writing techniques. That’s all very good, but to achieve what published writers do, the best way that I've found is to read the type of books, articles and stories that I enjoy and would like to write. The next step is to utilize what information I gather from reading and put that into my own writing. This is where the test is passed or failed. To touch my readers and to invoke a reaction from them, I have to show not tell the story.
Webster's Dictionary meanings:
Show – to cause or permit to be seen, exhibit, reveal, disclose, a demonstrative display, a theatrical presentation.
Tell – narrate, say, to inform.
When I first started to write, I often wondered about the difference between the two. After much research, I realized that the main ingredient for accomplishing showing was missing in my work. I wasn’t including the five senses in each scene. No matter what I describe, I have to add the senses to it. Does the grass tickle your bare feet? Cool the bottoms off, dampen them with the dew? Are birds chirping and flying across the clear blue sky? Is there a strong pang of black coffee in your mouth and the rich aroma of the steam traveling up your nostrils?
I find that when I immerse my whole mind into that of the character’s Point of View that I’m in during the scene, the showing becomes almost second nature. How do you do this? Well, I am an observer in that character’s mind. Every reaction, touch, and thought that he or she has or feels, I share and I put all of this into words. Sure, I don’t use all of what I've writen but sometimes it’s better to have too much than too little. As an author I can go back and review my work and change, delete or add to what I’ve already have in the scene.
For me, my favorite method is to show by pretending I am staring through a telescope. What does that mean? Well, when I am in my character’s Point of View, I take notice of all about me, atmosphere, room, decorations, taste, smell, etc. Not only do I have external aspects to consider but also internal ones also.
In other words, I don’t want to tell a story like I would at the office to a friend. I want to put on paper a black and white movie that will play the story out for the reader. I want them to not only see the beautiful scenes but I want them to feel the anguish and laughter of the characters inside and out. When I do this, I have a longer version of what I want to say. I create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind thus causing them to react to the story. One way that I do this is to replace linking verbs with more active ones. I also use very descriptive adjectives and nouns.
In the end, my story is stronger, fresher and has a wonderful flavor to it.
Practice with the senses. See how this will work with your story. I’m happy I did.
Posted by Speck for Judy