This month’s theme at StoryADay is “Show, Don’t Tell”, that pesky little piece of writing advice that sounds so easy and will actually take us the whole month to unpack. It’s more than simply ‘showing’. It’s about using all our senses to immerse the reader in a moment, and it come more easily to some writers than others.
Let’s start practicing with today’s prompt. This week we’ll focus on making the setting immersive. Next week will be about showing through dialogue. The week after that we’ll work on when to ‘show’ and when to ‘tell’.
Your character walks into a room and sees something/someone they really, really don’t want to see. How do they solve this dilemma?
- While you’re writing this story, try to immerse the reader in the most emotionally-significant moments by taking us right inside your story.
- Don’t say “I walked into the large, well-kept formal dining room.” Try something like, “the clack of my heels on the hardwood floor echoed around the high ceiling. A crystal chandelier’s reflection winked at me from the polished dining table. I couldn’t smell the flowers that had been artfully arranged in huge gleaming vase, just silver polish and oil soap.”
- Be wary of weighing down the story with too much description though. Anything you spend this much time on should have emotional resonance. For example, I imagine the character in the above scene has a complicated relationship with an older relative who owns this house. All these features make her deeply uncomfortable, and my next sentence should show that. e.g. “I pulled at the collar of my blazer and made sure my skirt was straight. Aunt Sara would surely comment if it wasn’t.”
- In that sentence I added some action to convey the character’s feelings rather than telling you she was nervous about seeing the old battleaxe again.
- The thing they don’t want to see could be a spider, and alien, something that triggers them, something they’re scared of, something they thought they’d got rid of, something that tempts them…
- The person they don’t want to see could be an ex, a difficult family member, they person they just stole something from, their principal/priest/parole officer…
Try to include a few instances of this kind of “showing” in your story today.
Use the StoryADay Short Story Framework to map out what might happen in your story. Don’t have a copy of the Short Story Framework? Request it here.)
If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.
Leave a comment to let us know what you commit to doing today to nurture your inner writer: Write this story? Comment on this post? plan your next story? Read a great short story?