Plot Pacing and Narrative Summary
You Don't ALWAYS have to Show. Sometimes you Can TELL!
Featuring: Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone
Raped from: Randy Ingermanson's Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine
If there's one thing that any writer is guaranteed to hear too many times, it's the dictum, "Show, Don't Tell."
There is a lot of truth to this rule of thumb. The purpose of fiction is to give the reader a Powerful Emotional Experience. And the best way to give the reader that Powerful Emotional Experience is by "showing" the good parts, rather than "telling" them.
In short, at the points of highest action in the story, you ramp up the pace by spending more words, "showing" everything in brilliant, Technicolor, slow-motion detail.
But, um, what about the boring parts? Should you "show" those too?
Some of my agent and editor friends have complained to me in recent years that the manuscripts they are seeing these days "show" too much. Sometimes, it just plain makes sense to "tell," rather than "show."
( Yes, you can TELL too! )