Most writers have heard of the expression ‘show, don’t tell’ and this concept applies even more to children’s novels than to books for adults. This is because children have a lower boredom threshold than grown-ups. ‘Show, don’t tell’ means, quite simply, writing so that the reader experiences the story rather than being distanced from it.
Tip 16 – Show, Show and Show Again
While show, show and show again is undoubtedly the correct way to relate the tale for maximum impact, there are also times when telling has its place in your writing. Breaking up the showing with some telling varies the rhythm and pace.
Telling gives the reader a brief respite from the unrelenting action of the showing phases. Everything that is really important is shown and the less important parts are told.
The technique breakdown below gives an indication of why and how to show (which should be the majority of the writing) and why and how to tell.
Showing – Why
To show conflict
To generate interest
To create pace
Showing – How
By using dialogue
Revealing inner thoughts
By using real-time action
Telling – Why
To slow the pace
To ease tension
To give essential information that cannot be shown
Telling – How
By using direct exposition (narrative)
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