Monday, August 22, 2016

Showing and Evoking Sensation Captures Your Readers

Here it is again. Don't tell. Show! You've heard it over and over from me and read the same in books about writing. You've heard workshop leaders say it. You've heard it on webinars you've attended. It's been said at your writing group meetings. 

Yep, we hear it, We read it, We know it. Even so, we still tend to do more telling than we should when we write. You can't eliminate all telling. That's nearly impossible. You can rid your work of a lot of it by showing and, as today's poster says, 'evoke sensation in the reader.' 

In a Random Word freewrite exercise that I did yesterday, I described a storm that occurred while we were at a cocktail party at a private club. After describing the thunder and lightning, the rain beating on the windows and wind bending trees to the ground, I wrote this:  Inside, the crowd enjoyed drinks and appetizers, laughter and chatter competing for noise with the thunder.  Several in my writing group commented that they liked this sentence, that it allowed them to 'hear' what happened. I could have written There was a lot of noise inside, too. That would be pure telling, wouldn't it? 

Learning to write so that we show, rather than tell, and write to 'evoke sensation,' is not a quick study. We must concentrate on writing this way. The longer we do it, the easier it becomes. We establish a habit of thinking in the show rather than tell mode. 

When you edit your work, look for areas where you can show, where you can 'evoke sensation' in your readers. Instead of saying Millie ate one bite of the apple pie you could write something like She let one bite of the apple pie slide across her tongue, savoring the combination of the tart apples and spicy cinnamon, before she swallowed. I don't know about you, but I suddenly want a bite of that pie, too. The second sentence showed Millie eating the pie and it also evoked the sensation of taste in the reader.

If you write a story that is all telling, it begins to sound like a report, or even a list of happenings. Not very interesting for your readers. Let them see the scene, allow them to feel what is happening and they are more likely to want to continue reading the story. 

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