Foxy Chocolate Has A Revelation (Show Don’t Tell)
so most creative writers I know (and myself) hate the phrase “show don’t tell”
usually it comes up in poetry, or so I like to believe, but then it crosses over into prose and suddenly we all get really pissed off
So recently I found that when i was writing the in-story description for Aiden Normandy, I was doing something i really should not have been doing:
When he was by himself, however, Aiden was a completely different person. When he focused, he liked to imagine that he was the only person in the room, like nobody else mattered at the time. Not as much as whatever he was doing. He told me once that when he played football, he didn’t see any defenders or any tacklers, he just caught the ball and saw the endzone (again, what?), so he’d do whatever he had to in order to achieve that. That, I noticed, was where Aiden and I had something in common. Aiden channeled his determination and relentlessness into football, probably at the order of some therapist, because if he hadn’t reined it in through sports, he’d take it out on people, and that seemed like the worst. He had found a way to measure his end games—as long as he got the end result, or the touchdown (his words), he didn’t care about the means to get there. Aiden was a dangerous sort of political climber, but I wouldn’t judge him because I was the same way. We both had the drive to win, to succeed, and most importantly, to gain power.
Here’s what I get from this: Aiden is aggressive. He likes to get things done and doesn’t care how he does it, as long as it’s done. He was a focused person, he likes power, he’d do anything for power.
Here’s the problem.
I didn’t discover that Gale Hawthorn from The Hunger Games was a sociopath because Katniss told me he was.
I discovered he was a sociopath after he figured out how to disable The Nut and when he decided that dropping parachute bombs on a square of small Capitol children was okay.
And that was when it hit me. Show don’t tell.
It’s the same thing as that one story that girl wrote where her main character gets “raped”. I only know the guy is a total asshole because he allegedly raped someone, but that’s such a forced way of telling me that the character was an asshole that i hated it.
I can’t tell people that Aiden’s a power-hungry asshole. I have to show him being a power-hungry asshole.
I realized that this is a problem I have with first person narrators. And I can only do it up to a certain point. See, Damien, my narrator, already knows Aiden, so he can tell the reader everything about Aiden, or everything he thinks about Aiden. However, Damien does not yet know Kai, and so I can’t do a descriptive paragraph like that for Kai. He doesn’t know anything about Kai, so everything Damien learns about Kai, the reader will learn, and then the reader will get to know him. I wonder if that’s always my intention, to have it so newer characters are new to everyone, even to me. That’s how they were usually conceived in my head. I thought I needed a character, and I added one I knew nothing another. Together me and my main character learned about this person, and they grew.
I won’t go back on it now because i don’t have the time, and no edits are allowed in NaNoWriMo, but when Nano’s over and I finish Runaway, I’ll definitely go back and fix it. Until then, I’ll keep my character descriptions in mind as i write my characters. I already know who they are, so now I have to show it.