Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Show don't Tell! Damn it!

Recently I got very angry. Very angry indeed - that's me telling you how upset I am at this. Alternatively, I could just throw into a rant... ahem:

I cannot believe that they just sit there ripping it out of my work as if no one else does it... gets away with - nay gets published committing it! It's how I write, damn it! How I write! Don't they see that real authors do it all the time? Don't they see that editors let this sort of thing stick because it expands the narrative's world... gives the back story? Heathens!

I'm not really angry - okay, a tell again - certainly not a those plucky individuals who'd been good enough to crit my recent return to my final project. I did feel naffed off that I can't just write the way I want to, the way established authors do - I tell you, they have a lot to answer for, with their five pages here and there of unbridled backstory that stops everything dead - it rubs off on us non-published folk and messes with our heads.

Take, for example, James Herbert's Once... it opens with a car crash. Succinct and crashy and then we're trawling through the countryside with protagonist Thom almost 20 pages as we're brought up to speed on everything that's come before.

Same with The Testament of Gideon Mack by... so-and-so. Big, long, winding tell to frame the story.

Sigh! The problem is that I'm not reading the type of book I'm writing (YA and teen) and so that's messing with my head.

Fortunately everything's salvageable and I'm learning to prune.

So, that's where I am - a happier, more aware place, thanks to my critiques. Thanks guys.

1 comment:

MG said...

Or like Gabriel Garcia Marquez who opens One Hundred years of Solitude with a guy in front of a firing squad then takes hundreds of pages to get back to it...
You can get away with it if it's done very well. You can dangle a hint of a scene...like a foreshadowing...and then start the story elsewhere. A generous reader might grant you ONE false start, I think. But it must be carefully done. Wherever you start, we'd like to be heraing a 'story' as soon as possible. And even GGM is doing that in his second para.