Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

February 6, 2015

Showing, Telling – Now – Making

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 12:16 PM
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I’ve been harping on ‘Show Don’t Tell’ in some of my post here. A few days ago I received my regular newsletter from Dave Farland. His newsletters always have gems of writing tips.

In his latest, he adds to rule of ‘Show Don’t Tell’ – Make.

New writers are often told, “Show, don’t tell.” Normally this piece of advice is given when a writer gives a vague description. He might say, “Rhonda looked tired.” A good reader will wonder about that. There are varying degrees of tiredness. Does the writer mean that the character had a blank expression on her face, or does he mean that she is staggering blindly and ready to fall?

So the adage “Show, don’t tell” is used to beg for more information. Yet I’ve always felt that that advice is . . . imprecise.

Farland goes on to say that when some writers try to adherer to the ‘show don’t tell’ rule, they tend to write cinematically.

Now there is nothing wrong writing your story using screenwriting rules. Writing a screenplay, you have to ‘show don’t tell’. Ninety percent of a screenplay is dialogue. The problem comes when you overdo it.

Farland says one must have ‘Make’ in the story, too.

When a Maker tells a tale, he doesn’t just explain what emotions a character feels. He’s not satisfied with just “showing” the emotion by describing it accurately. His goal is to make you experience the tale. His goal is to bring you into the tale so forcefully, that you live through it.

But be careful. Very few of us are James Joyce’s. In other words, in my parlance, you end up writing wordy literature and not a modern story.


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