I read an article earlier where a writer was debating the ‘show don’t tell’ school of thought, they felt that ‘telling’ the story was the right way because we are ‘storytellers’, a reasonable argument I felt.
As a teacher I am always trying to get my students to think about this within their own writing, how something is (possibly) more interesting when someone’s fear or sadness, for example, is described rather than being told how they are feeling. I love the anticipation that this type of writing provides the reader, to me it is more satisfying.
However I recently wrote a ‘dialogue only’ short story and I found it incredibly difficult and at times frustrating to keep the momentum of the story and the development of the two characters going, I became more of a ‘storyteller’ then ‘shower’.
Because I couldn’t say how the characters were speaking or describe their movements or facial expressions I had to think of other creative ways to ‘show’this. At one point my main protagonist is sitting in front if a dressing table mirror, a key part to the story, and I had to think of a way to include this in the dialogue and still create a 3 dimensional scene. In another scene she looses her balance and the other character helps her, but we know this not by how the characters move but by what is said.
Do I think that my story lacked something because of this? No, I don’t.
As a writer it made me think more creatively, I ‘showed’ when I could and ‘told’ when I had to, my story was a collaboration of both. It certainly made me realise that there is room for both within my own writing and I’m going to have some fun experimenting with it. Now where did I put that notepad?