Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Show & Tell

A few days ago, I wrote a review for Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I did, for the most part, enjoy this book. My enjoyment came not from the wild and unforgettable things that happened in the story but from the beautiful language used to share the story. Libba Bray is a master of showing rather than telling, something many writers – myself included – struggle with from time to time. The following is an example of her incredible ability to show her story:
“By the time the Lost Girls returned to the beach, the sky was the color of wet slate and an army of angry clouds massed along the horizon, awaiting further instructions.”
-Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, page 18

Absolutely beautiful writing! This sentence happened early on in the book and it was this sentence which won my desire to finish the story regardless of how it turned out. I think this is one of the aspects of a good novel which GLOW was missing for me. Too much telling and not enough showing sucks the life out of the story.

I can imagine Bob Ross (the PBS painter who always found a happy little bush or tree to brighten a painting) painting this picture and using similar words to explain what was happening in his creation as he loaded the canvas with oil.

Had I been the one writing this story, I might’ve overlooked this opportunity to paint in the readers mind by simply saying, “By the time the Lost Girls returned to the beach, a storm was brewing.” How blah and boring and completely flat! Instead of a Bob Ross masterpiece (or Libba Bray for that matter), it comes out looking (and sounding) like this:

What a prime example of my nonexistent talent with drawing! It's also a depiction of the lost depth and lack-luster feelings TELLING rather than SHOWING elicits for the reader.

As a writer, I will try to remember the way Libba Bray chose to show the storm (an important plot device) developing rather than just telling the reader a storm was brewing so I too can find The Joy of Painting with words instead of a brush.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! First nice post! My mom and me love Bob! lol.
    But second I wanted to say that I picked you in my nominations as The Versatile Blogger Award! :D
    Check it out!!!!!