Friday, April 29, 2011

Showing versus Telling

I am such a wimp where my computer is concerned that when there's a storm raging, I sit at the kitchen table candle nearby in case of a power outage, writing things by hand in my journalling scrapbook. Green ink today, trying to finish an old pen. I've suffered a lightning-fried motherboard and the results were not pretty. Once bitten and all that. But it does mean my blogs are delayed. Sorry.

This week I've been working though Chapter 3 of Srese Kerr, more slowly than I expected it would take. The problems are the parts which are still in the told mode, rather than being shown. Large chunks of Srese's story were written more than five years ago which equates to approximately the amount of time I've been conscious of the tell/show divide.

What I'm discovering is that telling makes me (the writer) feel distant from the character. To my mind now,  telling equates to running a character as though they were a marionette, with me pulling the strings. When I re read, being my 'first reader', I don't get the immediacy, the closeness I want with a character, to where I can identify with them.

The discipline is for me to be the hand in the glove puppet that represents the character. So that that character can't be seen, or imagined, to do anything that they're not forced to do by their writer. And it seems to be working, tell me what you think?

Old is told:
The uneven floor made walking an adventure. Srese felt young having to watch where she set her feet in case she tripped. Her arm and shoulder brushed against rough, undressed stone when she leaned into the wall to get her balance.

But wait a minute, the floor felt gritty! She'd forgotten to put on scuffs. What about the walls? Were they real? Stupid woman, she said to herself, you went into the passage. The lights ... there's one fore, one right above you and one aft, near the door. You are not in a video, not in a flock wall, not in a holo.

What then? she whispered. To hear herself and but also not to wake herself. Because if the habitat was real, what bit of reality was this? She felt the doubt Gammy flooded her with. Some concoction of hormones. But remember, she told herself, he doesn't do words now. I can be strong with words. This is very good for my project. Something for the gammy computer to find out the hard way.

This was not the habitat. There was no sensori-felt, no electro-magnetic flock. She brushed her fingers over the stone. Gritty. Bumpy where bits had come away, leaving harder bits. Wide flat chisel marks. Hammer fractures. That same history video. A role she had studied once for a performance. She leaned against the raw stone wall with her whole self. Where had he been going, the one who'd carved out this passage? Please let there be no skeleton at the end.

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