Is There Merit In Telling And Not Showing?


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  1. Anthony Ehlers

    I think part of her success is that she believes every word she writes. That authenticity is almost like an X-ray for the reader. She’s not a great stylist, but she’s a good storyteller. There’s the clue you picked up on your around-the-kitchen-table analogy: a storyteller, not a storyshower. I’d add a caveat to new writers. She writes like this because she’s Danielle Steel. Don’t try this at home, folks. Ha ha.

  2. WordPainterWA

    Not having been one of her readers I can only imagine that her writing style is similar to Aayan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Infidel’ her memoir in the first person.

    I agree that this style can be quite intriguing if the author knows how to write true emotion into her prose and has been an observer of life, or perhaps it is better to say lives.

    I think that the mantra “show, don’t tell’ is a simplified way of saying put some emotion into your story so it won’t read like an auto-repair manual.

    I once was asked to review a book that mentioned lift of the foot when walking, every boring detail of the characters’ day, including going to the bathroom to ‘void’, and the action in the story failed to appear until the page 420 or a Kindle with 450 pages. I begged off doing the review for obvious reasons.

    DL Kirkwood

    CAPTCHA apparently does NOT work for anyone with a MAC computer,
    I tried by sight, and sound. It will not send.

  3. JazzFeathers

    I’m reading a book telling more than showing too, and I’m enjoying it. I too wonder how this is, since in many places I though I’d never handled the scene the way the author did, just by telling what happened and never showing us.

    The reason I came up with is that the story, the events are so interesting, I don’t really mind whether they are showed or not. The characters are well drawn in the scenes which are showed (dialogues are particularly strong) and the chain of event is tight and logical and that does the trick for me.

    We should always remember that even if the rules are good, we’re never chained to them 😉

  4. WordPainterWA

    Jazz, I agree. Sometimes rules don’t fit every situation.

    My current read is more this still and once got past daughter taking mom to the old country, and discovering her life from childhood through exile, wars, and onward I’m finding the book most intriguing. For my taste they could have left our the first three chapters of daughters taking her there and finding the village where ‘mom’ then took over the narrative.

  5. Donna Radley

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. Anthony, I agree – she’s a good storyteller. She also uses plain language, which adds to the authentic, round-the-kitchen-table feel.

    DL, I like the point you make about true emotion. I also would not have managed to review that book …

    JazzFeathers, with strong characters and dialogue, and a tight, logical chain of events, it sounds like the ‘bones’ of your current read are good.

    WordPainter, your current read perhaps lacks a strong inciting moment. I’m glad you’re enjoying the rest of it, though.

    I’m also reading a ‘telling’ book at the moment. At times, I feel myself slogging through it, and would have preferred more showing for this read.

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