Shannon Donnelly is with us today to talk about her upcoming OCCRWA online class, Show and Tell, an Interactive Workshop. Take it away, Shannon!
Thanks Alina. Weâ€™ve all heard â€œshow, donâ€™t tellâ€ and there is value in that advice. If all you do is tell a story, how does the reader participate with his or her imagination? However, a book is not a movie. While a movie requires everything to be shown (or an often awkward voice-over to be added if itâ€™s not showing enough), a book has the luxury of being able to use narrative. And thatâ€™s where I usually get folks who are utterly confused.
Merriam-Webster gives us the root for narrative/narrating as the â€œLatin narratus,past participle of narrare, from Latin gnarus knowing; akin to Latin gnoscere, noscere to know.â€
This means any writer of fiction needs not only showing but telling as well. Whatâ€™s the secret in knowing when to show and when to tell? This is something Iâ€™ll be covering in the May workshop, but here are a few tips:
– Where are we? (Place and world â€“ the reader needs to be placed into the scene, otherwise itâ€™s confusing to the reader. Do not throw your readers into the deep end without giving them some help.)
– Who is here?(An introduction to the characters, particularly to the main characters for that scene, and for the story.)
All this needs to be woven together, stitched in with careful threads, not dumped on the reader in big clumps. Or, to put it another way, feed the reader your tellingâ€”your narrativeâ€”with a teaspoon, not a soup bowl.
– Your characters in actionâ€”scenes are always stronger when you show a character expressing emotion with physical reactions.
– Your characterâ€™s emotions through words. Dialogue should never just be there to advance the plot or you end up with a character that seems stiff on the page. Just as you want to show emotions through actions, you also want to show emotion through wordsâ€”this includes what someone avoids talking about, too.
Her Regency Historical Romance, Paths of Desire, can be found as an ebooks on Kindle, Nook and at Smashwords, along with her Regency romances.