To show or imply - Page 3


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Thread: To show or imply

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    My issue with underwriting is that in instances where the word choices are insufficiently powerful, the text gets anemic and bland. There's no commitment to artistry, no dazzlement, nothing cool or inventive about it. But yes, belabouring every tedious detail is also a problem. I call it the "beige sofa" syndrome, after seeing two unrelated pieces of work (not here) that each went into that amount of detail, both mentioning the offending furniture in the opening puh
    Have you ever considered that that will be a point of focus for the writer to better express the scene that they are fixated upon? It is like getting personal, if you did not get personal, then there is no identity shared. If there is no identity, then there is no sense of self or the objects around you, if you are into programming, so to speak.

  2. #22
    I go both ways, whatever seems appropriate. One thing I would say is if you are doing the description do it first, that way the reader won't create something that then gets overturned.

    'It stood up against the wall, as though trying to remain inconspicuous until it could edge out of the room. Grime had polished to a sheen in the areas most rubbed and leant against and one almost expected a comic book sticking plaster bandage to be covering the occasional tear in the fabric. Nothing could be further from Priscilla's polished and perfect piece, yet both beige sofas were of the same original design, probably purchased at the same outlet at similar times.'

    An extract from 'The Beige Sofa Conspiracy', one of the most boring stories not yet written.
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  3. #23
    It's bizarre to read this thread and see so many people with so many different opinions on what is showing and what is telling - to the point where some people say showing is writing more, some people say it's writing less, and some people say the terms are synonymous.

    To answer the original subject line, showing IS implying. If you're writing everything out, you're no longer showing, but telling. Jeko did a good job of explaining why people confuse the two ("he smiled" is showing that he's happy, but "he's happy" is probably showing that he smiled), but there is a hard line between the two. If you are writing out the implication of something, you are telling. If you are writing out the action or event that's doing the implying, you are showing.

    He ran to the building quickly. - Telling
    He reached the building long before the others. - Showing

    The house was old and spooky. - Telling
    The roof had caved in, and an eerie noise came from the windows. - Showing

    Bob was scared of going inside. - Telling
    "Why don't you go first," Bob told Steve. - Showing

    Telling prompts the question, "How do we know that?" Showing prompts the question, "Since we know that, what does it mean?" The distinction isn't in how many words you use, or how many adjectives are present, or dialogue, or description, or any of that. It's entirely based on what question the reader asks after reading.
    "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

    "I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story." - Tom Clancy

  4. #24
    I fall into the "showing" camp for sure, but see no reason why I can't also imply while showing. The art comes in the writers ability to discern just how much to show and how much to imply. As a reader I enjoy using my brain to figure things out and congratulate myself when I pick up on the clues that were only implied...

  5. #25
    'Show' seems to be a trigger for the word 'Tell', But the OP talks about showing and implying. To me that is something different, showing and telling are both explicit in some way, implying not so.
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  6. #26
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    Kind of following Olly's comment, I feel there's a big difference between show/tell and show/imply, and that everyone seemed to jump onto the classic show/tell talking points. Also of note, the OP has not posted again to clarify their meaning.

    I think all three (show/tell/imply) have their place, especially in SFF where you can't -- or shouldn't -- always spell the details of your world out to the reader. Little bouts of telling speeds things along, showing can evoke imagery and emotion in your reader, and implying can make your reader think more deeply about what's going on in your story.

    Implying, imo, is also the hardest of the three and the most difficult to decide where it is and isn't appropriate. Example: one of my shelved storied has SideCharacterMan™ catching his close friend, MainCharacterGal™, committing a violent act of vigilantism. My beta readers almost universally asked what kept the side character from turning her in. Even if I showed him expressing unease whenever she flirts with other guys, or tell the reader that he once asked her out only to be turned down (though he was cool about it and they've remained close friends), and how when he scores a lucrative (illegal) job, the first person he goes to show off to is MainCharacterGal. It likely seems obvious when I list my intentions, but implying bit by bit in the text can be tricky.

    Should I have been more explicit? He's just a side character, and I didn't feel his subplot merited more time in the novel than he already got. But that's a very tricky thing to decide on.

  7. #27
    Implication or implying is a way of giving the reader subliminal information without telling. You can show a manner of dress or body language or a way of speaking that says a lot more about the character than mere description. This is achieved through our learned associations. You can imply a lot about a person’s socio/economic class by showing how they dress or speak. You can imply a lot about a persons mood or disposition by showing their body language. A writer may want to do this so that a character’s hidden attributes are revealed slowly and subtly for whatever reason. Or the author may want the reader to know that a character is not entirely what he appears to be. There are many reasons to imply and it’s always better than telling because the reader has to engage the character or situation through his imagination.

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