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I've been creative writing all my life, though with various haitus(es) along the way. IFrom 2010 I started this blog and enjoyed sharing writing and other information with everyone. illness and bereavement supplied the more recent hiatus.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

More Showing and Telling

Misty Waters at Writer's Block ~ Oh wait! I mean Blog... is hosting a great show and tell blogfest.
Choose a picture and write two pieces about it, one Telling and one Showing.

I chose the prisoners.

TELLING involves narrative summary. Being told what is happening rather than the reader feeling it for themselves. The author spells everything out, populating the narrative with statements, rather than letting the reader experience it. While it is possible to include some description in the telling, it is fairly stark and factual.

TELLING: Basic narrative summary:
It was hot. The Stythian watched them in the stifling billowing air. Zedric looked up at his wife Aleona and held up his hand beseechingly.
“I had no choice” he said “You made it impossible for me not turn you in, Aleona” 

She looked at him with pure hatred. The pumped air making her hair and clothes billow about. Her hands were tied tightly behind her back and she glared at her husband.
“You know I love you, don’t you” Zedric said, holding her gaze.
“You call this love!” she snarled back.
The Stythians moved forward impatiently.
“Your time is up!” their collective voice boomed in one accord. “Come now she-thing.” (111 words)

TELLING with some description:
NB: When I did my OU Creative Writing Course and wrote like the stuff below, my tutor would constantly berate me with 'Show not tell' and I would think 'But I just did!' It is hard to describe a scene without telling what it looks like, which involves some description. I guess the real showing is in making the reader feel it too?

The Stythians  stood waiting at the top of the stairs holding their staffs, their tattered filthy cloaks billowed in the fetid atmosphere of the docking station. Zedric knelt at the bottom of the steps looking up at his beautiful wife. Remorse wracked his features, as fear coursed through his body. His personal feelings conflicted, once again, in his mind with his ultimate duty.

 “I had no choice” he pleaded “You made it impossible for me not turn you in, Aleona”  he said holding his hand up to her in a beseeching gesture, such was his need for her forgiveness.

Aleona looked down at her husband with ill-concealed hatred, her hands bound tightly behind her back. Her white-blond hair and silk attire flapped about her in the current of hot air that was being pumped into the atmosphere by the Stythians. It enabled them alone to breathe. Both Zedric and Aleona knew that prolonged exposure choked the life out of normal human souls; the heat and the stench almost suffocating them as they loitered.

“This is the sacrifice you are prepared to make?” Aleona demanded.

He could not answer her, such was his own internal battle. He hoped that once she boarded the Stythian ship she would be safe. He hoped she might have a chance, but he did not know for sure.

“You know I love you, don’t you” he said finally, holding her gaze.

She snorted “You call this love!” The snarl in her voice was answer enough, though not the one he would have wished to hear.

The Stythians moved forward impatiently.

“Your time is up!” their collective voice boomed in one accord. “Come now she-thing.”
(278 words)



  1. I don't care if this is telling, I would read more in a heartbeat! You did the picture proud -- but I'm sure the showing version will be even better.

  2. Oh wow!! This is seriously good!!! Wow!! I love it!!!! I want to know what happens next!! I really really enjoyed reading this - gorgeous and sumptious!! Well done you!! Take care

  3. Hey! Thanks for sharing this. It was wonderful. I enjoyed particularly how you managed to incorporate the image in every way through the writing. With the "holding his hand up to her in a beseeching gesture, such was his need for her forgiveness," and the "tattered, filthy cloaks billowing in the fetid atmosphere." You colored the writing well by the imagery. I chose the different path to build the story and supply the image as the very last scene. That's me: I love worldbuilding.

    Thanks again!

    In My Write Mind

  4. Great stuff! I enjoyed your choice and envied your skill.

  5. You know this telling isn't really all that bad...or all that stark. I think you managed to sneak in some showing there as well, without even realizing it. Which is a good sign. Means even when you're trying to par it down, you still come away with substance.

    I'm very interested in seeing what you come up for the full showing piece!

  6. Very, very good Madeleine

    I had to pinch myself and ask "this isn't showing?" Somehow the writing engaged so much I couldn't tell!

  7. Hey, if *that* was telling... phew... I can't wait to see the Showing!! Very nice job. Love this entry. In the words of Gov. S in CA "I'll be Back."

  8. Telling can be just as absorbing as showing. You did a fantastic job, Roland

  9. Nice telling, if I may say so. I know we're not supposed to do that, but I still like it!

    I have issues differentiating between show and tell... ah well. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it eventually.

  10. Definitely I agree with the others here, great great piece.

    I have real issues finding the difference between telling and showing in my stuff too but I'm getting there. Sometimes if something tells a lot of action it might, nonetheless, be showing a lot of characteristation, you know? I HOPE I will figure it out soon too.


  11. Thanks everyone.
    This exercise has been very useful in really defining the differences between the two because as I said you can add lots of description in the Telling without it actually being showing and that is where I always faltered on my course initially. :O)

  12. Madeleine, this is a very useful exercise, and I'm seriously considering taking part this wednesday :)

    Thanks for sharing your work, and as far as telling goes, this was not half-bad ;)

  13. I definitely agree with the others - this is too good to be telling. If life hadn't conspired against me in the last week, I was going to take part and say that sometimes you need telling. Not all telling is bad!


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