You can find this article in its entirety HERE.
“MYTH: ‘Show, don’t tell’ is literal-Don’t tell me John is sad, show him crying.”
REALITY: ‘Show, don’t tell’ is figurative-Don’t tell me John is sad, show me why he’s sad.”
-Lisa Cron, Wired For Story.
One of the most difficult things for writers to do is write lean, narrative descriptions that are succinct in conveying their intended meaning to an audience. We hear the words “trust your readers” without really putting what it means into context, passages often becoming overwritten, vague, non-specific and meaningless as a result. Much of this comes from an inability to convey specific visual cues to the reader, making them more of a passive observer to a story rather than an active participant to it – but some issues can also be attributed to the overlooked facet of set up and pay off (the cause and effect relationship) of “Show, don’t tell.” Understanding the virtues of both is necessary if one wants an audience to truly engage with their writing.
In Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers From the Very First Sentence, Lisa Cron makes the distinction between the literal and the figurative and how all too often writers choose to do what they believe is correct in showing an emotion as it pertains to the scene. However, what they fail to do is recognize in the realm of storytelling, everything is about set ups (cause) and pay offs (effect), including emotions. Showing someone crying over the death of another isn’t enough; we must have an understanding of what the deceased meant to the other in order for us to feel and derive meaning ourselves while watching the scene. In other words, it’s the set up that provides context for the pay off – and you know the movies that don’t do this effectively because your friend sitting in the next seat will nudge and ask you, “Why’d he do that?
We’ve found a new home! You can read the rest of this article as well as others HERE.