Need Some Serious Writing Help Here! (How to show/not tell)

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Need Some Serious Writing Help Here! (How to show/not tell)

#1 Post by dmasterxd » Sat Jul 19, 2014 3:16 pm

Hello everyone, like the title suggests, I need some serious writing help. I'm having some trouble with the show don't tell concept. You see people have told me to do this. But others have told me to be descriptive as well. I know there is way to do this but I don't know how.

So if you would all be kind enough to give me some advice on this and/r examples that would be very much appreciated. Please and thank you.

Also for anyone who's ever watched SAO, I'm trying to make something along the lines of it. But how can I make it more unique?

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Re: Need Some Serious Writing Help Here! (How to show/not te

#2 Post by Shinoki » Sat Jul 19, 2014 5:49 pm

For the Show, don't tell thing, I'm not too sure, but: yea, describe.... use figurative language.... use dialogue (like instead of saying [Bob had a superiority complex and liked to make fun of others.], have a scene and be like... [Bob haughtily laughed while looking down at his classmates, "Ha! You idiots, don't you know that blah blah blah? This is why I'm better than you fools!"]) It's something like that-or so I've been told.

For the SAO thing... I'm guessing your idea is something like trapped in VRMMO

You could make the main character a GM (Game Master)
Or a priest/healing type... or maybe a tank... or a bard.... or a spear-user or melee-fighter... that Japanese internet thing... the 30 year old virgin mage?

Or if it's just getting stuck in a video game MMORPG type thing... something like, the main character plays as more than one avatar at a time (like Blank from No Game No Life... simultaneously playing more than one chara per person...) and he gets stuck in game as more than one person....

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Re: Need Some Serious Writing Help Here! (How to show/not te

#3 Post by ArachneJericho » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:20 pm

The difference between show and tell is the difference between scenes and narration, if you think about things from a movie perspective (which is more similar to a VN than a VN is to a novel).

Scenes occur in a specific, real place with specific, real people. You're watching the movie (show) rather than telling your friend about the movie (tell). And yes, this means that "show" results in much more text than "tell", but show will usually immerse your reader better than tell.

Here's an example of an exercise I did from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.

Exercise: Turn the following "tell" into "show": "Amanda took one look at the hotel room and recoiled in disgust."

Here is my answer, spoiler'd in case you want to try it out after reading a summary I wrote of the show vs tell chapter:
The hotel door closed behind her with the hackle-raising creak of an ill-kept door. Amanda flicked the light switch, which had the effect of lighting a simple bare bulb above a dusty table beside a bed with grimy sheets. Even made, there showed milky stains across the coverlet and pillow, leftovers of only the gods knew what. The paisley carpeted floor had ground-in dirt, with shapes and locations that led the mind to terrible imaginings.

Across one wall, spackled the color of regurgitated pea soup, a cockroach skittered and disappeared into a crack where doubtless more of its brethren were gathered, waiting for their opportunity once the light was off.

She put one hand to her mouth, and resisted retching, thinking that the last thing she wanted to do was leave another ghastly stain for the next guest to gaze upon.
Now, that is actually geared towards novel-writing, and also has some annoying repetition. If I were to rewrite for a visual novel today, assuming I had an artist render the room itself:
show bg disgusting_hotel_room dark
play sound doorcreak

"The hotel door closes behind me with a hackle-raising creak. I flick the light switch."

show bg disgusting_hotel_room light

"The bare bulb illuminates the dust on the table, the grimy sheets of the bed, with milky stains across the pillow and coverlet, leftovers of the gods only knew what."

"The ground-in dirt of the floor had shapes that led to terrible imaginings."

show cockroach at wall_skitter

"A cockroach skitters across the wall, and disappears into a crack where doubtless more of its brethren waited for the opportunity when I turned off the light."

"I put one hand to my mouth, and resisted retching."

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Re: Need Some Serious Writing Help Here! (How to show/not te

#4 Post by sempersapiens » Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:10 pm

This writing advice by Chuck Palahniuk (he wrote Fight Club, among several other really good books) does a good job of illustrating that concept, and suggests an exercise to help with it: ... iuk-in-six

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Re: Need Some Serious Writing Help Here! (How to show/not te

#5 Post by Mad Harlequin » Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:40 pm

Here's a favorite bit of advice I found long ago:

And here's an excerpt from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, which I've mentioned elsewhere:
I'm an aspiring writer and voice talent with a passion for literature and an unhealthy attachment to video games. I am also a seasoned typo-sniper. Inquiries are encouraged. Friendly chats are welcome.
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Re: Need Some Serious Writing Help Here! (How to show/not te

#6 Post by SundownKid » Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:14 am

Here are some ideas on how to make the SAO concept more unique:

* The main character's avatar is actually a different gender, or drastically different age or physique than his/her own.
* The main character can possess anyone in the game, even other players, like a ghost in the machine.
* It's not an MMO, it's a Massively Multiplayer Singleplayer game. Most of the other people in the world are AI programs except for a few.
* Everyone else thinks it's a game, but a few people are fighting for their lives and can't tell anyone or the game master will kill them.
* Like Westworld, the game is actually a real life theme park being controlled by a person or sabotaged by a computer virus.

As for the Show don't Tell example:

Let's say your character is trapped in a cell with an electric fence around it. Telling would be something like:

Code: Select all

c "Damn, where am I?"
loudspeaker "Mwahahah! You are inside a jail cell now, and can't get out! It's surrounded by an electric fence that will shock you when you touch it!
And showing would be something like:

Code: Select all

c "Damn, where am I?"
"I run towards the door, trying to bash it open with my shoulder. Suddenly, I feel a shock and my whole body goes numb."
"I fly from the wall and land on the floor, fried with some kind of electricity."
c "An electric fence!?"

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Re: Need Some Serious Writing Help Here! (How to show/not te

#7 Post by Dread Lord » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:29 am

You can try to chart a more balanced approach to the whole Showing vs. Telling paradigm by following the advice offered by this writer here: ... g-telling/

To learn more about Showing over Telling you can't go far wrong by adapting your style to use the advice given by: ... 1club.html ... ttell.html

You can also try to Learn "How to Write One True Sentence": ... tence.html

These links and the wealth of advice they contain should be enough to answer your query adequately.

Let me know what you think of the writing advice they contain. Best of Luck in your writing!

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