One of the most talked-about elements of writing craft is showing vs. telling. The fact is, once you learn how to show in your writing, it’s hard not to. Don’t worry—if you’re not sure how to do that yet, you’ll have a better idea by the end of this post. That said, this blog post is geared toward how to show in historical fiction, particularly when the place you’re writing about is gone, or when it exists, but it’s “plagued” by the trappings of modernity.
So there you have it—this is your ultimate guide to:
How to show versus tellWhen to show versus tellShowing in historical fiction
Are you ready to learn how to make your historical fiction pop? Keep reading.
How to Show v. TellIf you’ve ever received a critique on your writing, you might have seen “Show, don’t tell” scrawled in on the margins. This might have been confusing, so let’s start with defining showing and telling.
It’s not about showing a kindergarten class the cool rock you found over the weekend.
I meant to post this entry last week, but there just wasn’t an opportunity. I’ll get to that a little further on. Last week, I attended my first ever MFA Creative Writing residency week. The event is like entering a bubble and, going in, I had certain assumptions that either proved true or did not. I’d like to share those with you here since some of these realizations played an important role in the takeaways of this wonderful experience. I’d like to preface this list by saying that I was in no way disappointed by the last week.
Assumption No. 1:I knew exactly what I wanted to write for my thesis--a book about the witch craze.
Reality:I had no idea what I wanted to write for my thesis. The fact is that while I will write the witch craze novel at some point, I don’t think it’s the right project for this degree for several reasons:
I have never been to the places where the novel occurs.The amount of research to convincingly tell the story is beyond astronomical, and even though I’ve been r…
It’s tough to be a writer. Writing involves giving so much of yourself to this project that everyone is going to judge and read with preset expectations. Even for folks who are trying to show their support, sometimes that support can come off as judgmental or worse. I’ve seen lists like this one on the internet before, but I’ve always wanted to write my own because there are things non-writers have said to me that always rubbed me the wrong way.
Of course, I never want to be impolite to anyone, especially if that person is trying to show their support. Or if they might become a future reader.
Please don’t take this post as my complaining about people who say these things. When faced with occupations that are so idealized by the media, it’s natural to have questions. That’s why my list will show you not only what not to say to a writer, but what you can say instead.
So let’s get to my list of three things writers never want to hear...and what you can say instead.