Show and Tell

Show and Tell

I’m back writing my novel and I’m doing it from scratch. I have an outline that gives me the basic points: point of view (PoV), time of day (ToD), weather, setting, emotions and synopsis. I open Scrivener and pull up a blank page. I work on three drafts in quick succession:

  • Draft 1: Telling
  • Draft 2: Narrative Tense
  • Draft 3: Showing

Draft 1

I write down all of the facts:

  • Who’s in the scene?
  • Where they are and their movements?
  • Something on the weather
  • The dialogues
  • Etc.

Basically, I imagine I’m standing in front of a stage and I direct the people here, there and everywhere. I point out what the background will be like and what furniture they’ll have.

The point of this draft is to delete the blank page. Blank pages are scary. If I have something written down, then I can improve it.

Draft 2

Usually written 24 hrs after draft 1. I change the present tense to past simple and past continuous. I will have to do another post on the Narrative Tense. It’s another aspect of writing I struggle with.

Draft 3

Sometimes happens at the draft 2 stage as well. My goal is to eventually merge these two steps, this will happen as I improve in the craft.

What I try to do here, is instead of imagining a stage, I sit down and watch the TV screen in my head. I toggle play and pause and I record to the best of my abilities what I see. Each time I describe something, I use all 5 senses.

However, I’m still terrible at it! Now, we get to the point of this post.

How to use Show and Tell

Every single article will tell you tell is bad, show is good. They’ll explain to you that you need to pepper tell throughout your novel and really show what’s going on. They’ll give examples and definitions and you’ll come away thinking, “yeah, I’ve got this!”

Then you read over your piece, and nope, back to the drawing board.

If you have no idea of what I’m talking about have a look at invisible ink editing, which is a very concise decent article, and they even promise to have worksheets some time in the future.

There are tons of articles out there like this, you should go and have a look. If you’re like me though, and need a guiding hand, well these articles only get you so far.

It’s okay though! I found an article that actually gives you exercises to complete: Self-publishing School. I’ve found my homework, I could say “for the week” here but let’s face it, it’s my homework forever.

I will print this article out, and have it by my side from now on while I’m doing draft 3. Obviously, at the start it will be tedious but sure, how else will I learn and improve my craft?

Let me know in the comments below, if you’ve any suggestions, advice or struggles of your own.

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