Sunday, June 26, 2011

Turn It Into a "Do"

In his blog this week, Nathan Bransford highlights "5 Openings to Avoid."

Any others you can think of?

One of my pet peeves is the "information dump," better known as telling rather than showing. Bo-ring. Especially as an opening scene!

I'm guilty of the info dump too, sometimes, but when I realize what I've done, I try to take that necessary background info and sprinkle it in later on. Or, I turn the "telling" into a flashback. For instance, instead of telling about a marriage being a bad one, and giving vague information, why not take the reader back to one pivotal moment in the marriage in a flashback - to a particular evening where the husband didn't come home until 2 a.m., and when he did, he made the wife feel like the bad guy. Was he drunk? Was she upset? Show, rather than tell, and that will let the reader know much more about the marriage. Also, with flashbacks, we involve the reader in a way that telling never does. They become flies on the wall, and can determine, themselves, how bad the marriage was.

Ultimately, once we recognize a "don't," it's always important to figure out how to turn it into a "do." ;-)

By the way, I dug up an old blog entry on this show-don't-tell topic: If interested, click here


  1. Show don't tell...the biggest writing ever. But I do employee that flashback method to show some things rather than tell them . :)

  2. Gah...guilty here, too. It's a constant work in progress, the showing and not telling.