Featured Posts

What Fluffy Little Kittens Taught Me About Rejection

July 31, 2014

1/10
Please reload

Recent Posts

June 16, 2014

Please reload

Search By Tags
Please reload

Showing is Believing: Grasp the Principle of Filtering and Never Tell Again

Monday, May 19, 2014

Contributing author: T.K. Millin

 

All writers start out as beginners. Whether they spent years in school or ventured out on their own in search of their dreams, there was an invisible start line etched across the beginning of their pathway to a writer’s life.

 

Like many beginning authors, I started out writing all my stories in first person and ended every line of dialogue with an attribution of either she said, he said or they cried!

 

Then there was the infamous challenge of overcoming the don’t tell ‘em, show ’em syndrome. If you ever find yourself wondering how in the world can you show something to the reader without telling them, then you are not alone.    

 

For example: It’s easy to think if my character has walked into a room and sat in a chair by the window and looked out and saw her neighbor fall to the ground that the only way my readers are going to know that he fell is if I write the scene like this:

 

Mary made her way to the chair by the window

and plopped down. She looked out the window and

saw her neighbor, Mr. Pepper, standing in his front yard.

She noticed a strange look on his face and then she saw

him clutch his chest and fall to his knees.

 

In writing fiction, you will often times be writing through some observing consciousness and when you ask the reader to observe the observer, you start to tell not show and inadvertently get in their line of sight.  

 

By removing the filters, you allow your readers to remain inside the character’s stream of consciousness.  

 

Let’s explore:

 

The filter is a common error and as a beginning writer, difficult to recognize. Even experienced writers can still fall prey to the natural urge to tell not show syndrome, but once you grasp the principle of filtering it’s an exciting way to make your writing more vivid.  

 

Taking our example from above, I've highlighted the filters and then removed them to “show” you how our scene can be more vivid.  

 

With filters:

 

Mary made her way to the chair by the window

and plopped down. She looked out the window and

saw her neighbor, Mr. Pepper, standing in his front yard. 

She noticed a strange look on his face and then she saw

him clutch his chest and fall to his knees.

 

Filters removed:

 

Mary made her way to the chair by the window and

plopped down. Across the street her neighbor, Mr. Pepper, was standing in his front yard with a strange look on his

face. Suddenly, he clutched his chest and fell to his knees.

 

Notice how in the revised version with the filters removed, it reads as though you are Mary observing the scene and not someone standing next to you telling you what she was seeing.  

 

So, the next time you are self-editing your story, make a mental note to watch for filters and experiment by removing them. You just might be amazed at how vivid your scene becomes!

 

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

 

T.K. Millin

 

I'd love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Please reload

 
  • Facebook Classic
  • Google+ App Icon
  • Twitter Classic
  • c-youtube

JOIN OUR SOCIAL CAFE!

CARE TO SHARE?

LET US KNOW YOU WERE HERE!