I came across a wonderful blog today about showing vs. telling. We’ve all heard the golden rule, but many writers don’t know what the heck it means. Show, don’t tell? What? Isn’t the very nature of what we writers do telling? It’s called story-telling for a reason, right? Well yes, but tell it like you would see it in a movie.
I actually think showing is one of my strengths as a writer, and while reading this blog, I had what Oprah attempted to trademark as an “aha moment.” While I read a lot in my twenties—paperbacks I picked up for a quarter apiece at Goodwill and used books I bought for 50% off cover price with store credit from trading my thrift store hauls—the number of books I read paled in comparison to the number of movies I watched.
Now, that was telling. Allow me to show you what I mean.
Back when VCRs were new tech, and instant video was science fiction, I lived in a rural town with no mall, no movie theater, but seven video stores. Eleven if you counted the video sections of the two gas stations, one tanning salon and the appliance store that also rented movies. I received an internship in my freshmen year of college as a campus marketing rep for a major motion picture studio by opening my wallet and spreading my membership cards—all eleven of them—out on the interviewer’s desk in answer to the question “Would you consider yourself a movie buff?”
After my first major romantic breakup, my best friend launched a full-scale manhunt for me by scouring every parking lot of every movie theater within a twenty minute radius of my house for my car. Because were else would I be? Movies were my escape, a guaranteed two hour solace from loneliness, depression, and anxiety. The theater itself was cool and dark after a long commute in a car with no AC. It was my church, and I prayed there every single day. Between AMC and Regal, I ran up eleven thousand dollars in credit card debt in college in ticket purchases and concessions…and that was with my student discount.
I watched anything…everything. How else could one see 7-10 movies in the theater week in and week out? I watched Last Action Hero twice (and I didn’t even like it the first time). It was an addiction I did not kick until my credit cards were maxed.
So I guess I have a good reason to be proficient in writing things as you would see them in a movie. In the long run, my education in showing vs. telling may have been cheaper than grad school, though the interest on it was a damn sight higher than my student loans. I hope it proves to be money well spent.
PS. Anybody else see Avengers this weekend?