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Old 10-03-2009, 12:41 PM   #168
r nelson
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seattle, WA
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r nelson is just really nicer nelson is just really nicer nelson is just really nicer nelson is just really nicer nelson is just really nice

For my part, I'd say always show instead of tell.




Unless it doesn't work.
Sometimes things need explaining, in which case you're going to have to "tell." This is often a space limitation, or explaining something that isn't easily explained visually.

Sometimes showing too much early on ruins your twist or your reveal, so you might want to pull back on the visuals and "talk" around the subject matter before finally showing it.

Sometimes you can "tell" one version of a story while "showing" another, to show that the teller is lying or better, that the person is unclear on the truth.
But like any "tricks," these techniques should be used sparingly at best, and used with a purpose that serves the story. In general, telling instead of showing is a failure to use the medium to its fullest capacity.

One of my first and best ego boosts in writing -- I'd submitted a story to Zeroes to Heroes a few years back, and while the contest judges found a couple of issues with the plot of the story (obvious in retrospect) that precluded it from being a "winner," one of the notes about the scripts' strengths was "Richard writes well for the artist. He knows where to use dialog and when to stay out of the artists' way."

MOST OFTEN, telling instead of showing is just that -- getting in the artists' way.

- Richard
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