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Monday, October 13, 2014

Showing & Telling by Laurie Alberts (AKA I'm Gonna Tell You When, How, and Why to do Each)

Recently I finished a how-to writing book titled Showing and Telling by Laurie Alberts. Personally, I needed this book. I heard the adage "Show, don't Tell" so much in college that I felt guilty and crummy every time I Told something in my fiction. Yes, in college I was taught it was okay to Show eighty percent of the time and to Tell twenty percent of the time, but I still developed some sort of Telling complex.

So I read Showing and Telling to help me get over that. I'm still not cured, but I'm making headway. In this book, Laurie Alberts not only explains the basics of Showing and Telling, but goes through all the different types and when and how to use them effectively. The book is divided into three sections: scene, summary, combining scene and summary. 

In the first section, which is all about Showing, Laurie Alberts talks about the different types of scenes that exist, their structures, and Showing pitfalls, and tools you can use for an effective scene. 

In the second section, which is all about Telling, she goes over all the different purposes and types of summaries in creative writing, such as to provide background information (and she talks about how one background summary is more effective than another), to compress time, to explain actions that happen in general time, to alert the reader to repeated actions, to offer insight and reflection, to provide characterization, and the list goes on. How is one summary better than another? Laurie Alberts will tell you. She explains how to make your summaries so vivid that they feel like scenes.

And of course, in the third section, she'll tell you how to put Showing and Telling together. This book helped me better discern when to Show and when to Tell in my writing. There are many books that talk about Showing in your writing, so it was nice to find one that actually taught how to Tell effectively in writing. 

I felt like I already knew a lot about Showing and Telling--I just needed someone to tell me it was okay to Tell--but I still learned new tools and tricks from this book, and I've already been implementing them.

I recommend Showing and Telling to any writer who needs help with the "Show, don't Tell" adage, specifically those writers who want to learn more about Telling. 

If you're interested, check the book out here.

Also, side note, I've been thinking I need to do more book reviews, of both my how-to writing books and the fiction books I've been reading, but I usually just have other things to blog about. I'll try to do more reviews. 


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