ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Show, Don't Tell: Actions Speak Louder

Updated on May 22, 2012

A character's actions always speak louder than the narration can describe about him or her. This is fiction writing 101 along with "don't overuse the word 'said' as a dialog tag." However, sometimes these actions leave a lot to be inferred by the reader, and your point may be misinterpreted or not get across at all. Therefore, there are some instances where you have to tell in order to make sure this doesn't happen. Otherwise, it is an important rule to follow that is not limited to just fiction writing.

Third-person storytelling involves the omniscient narrator, but it is not just "a faceless voice used by weak writers" as one Red vs Blue character claims (yes, I'm quoting them again, and if you realized that the first time I did then congratulations, you're a nerd just like I am). With third-person narration, you not only get to read spoken dialog but also the inner thoughts of each character, giving you a deeper perspective to any given situation the characters find themselves in. It also allows for more descriptive storytelling to set the scene (unless your main character is feeling particualrly verbose). First-person narration is limited to one character's point-of-view, and while successful in some cases, it is not so useful in others if you desire a more well-rounded approach. Ann M. Martin accomplished this in her series The Babysitters Club by writing in the first-person and rotating the characters who do this as the situation demands it. It's all a matter of perspective, either from the outside as a reader or from the inside as one or more of the characters.

There is one more way that the principle "show, don't tell" works (or ought to work) in the favor of online writers. Showing someone a clip of something, no matter what it is, is always more effective than just telling them about it. Not to repeat myself from a previous Hub, but copyright claims against this kind of use should be fought whenever possible, for it is not a crime. Uploaded material may be available to the public, but the public in turn use it in the privacy of their own home, cubicle, or wherever they access the Internet (especially from mobile phones with such capabilities, which can put them just about anywhere). Those who create derivative works from them also feed into the cycle of public uploads for private use, and so on. True fans with money purchase copies of the original material for themselves; true fans without money give credit where credit is due; true jerks on a sinking ship of a corporation shift blame where they can and sue for non-existant damages which they will never receive. What if people started getting indicted for making a mix tape or the digital equivalent of that? Sure, one could just make a lyric book instead, but that's not nearly as effective. Simply printing or saying words never is, but it's safer and less subject to intrusion by the government Internet police...for now.

Communication is just as important as education when it comes to fair use. Based on the fact that "show, don't tell" is more effective to learning and communicating, especially with today's techonology, our government should really re-examine their proposed laws on the subject. That is, if they care more about all the people they're supposed to represent and not just the ones funding their campaigns. In my opinion, the people in Congress should show us they're serious by taking action on this issue instead of wasting their breath on empty words. Shame on you! CISPA must not pass!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.