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Is "Voice" "Telling"? (1 Viewer)

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Taylor

Staff member
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As examples: Ron Goulart is pretty much the same voice in every book. It's an entertaining voice, so he has an extensive bibliography. His voice is so unique that when the "Tekwar" series was published, ostensibly by William Shatner, I knew right away the books were ghost-written by Goulart. I checked back at the front of one of the books and saw acknowledgement to "assistance from Ron Goulart". My immediate response was, "Yeah, assistance by writing every word of every Tekwar book". LOL

Stephen King wrote under a pen name for a few years. It is said, because he was so prolific that he feared people would think his work was not good quality enough if he published more than one novel a year. But, eventually people recognized his voice and knew it was him anyway.
 

apocalypsegal

Senior Member
I agree that, as writers, we should stop disciplining each other with the rod of "show don't tell."

Nope, not going to agree with this. What I think is that people who want to write should learn their craft, and then they'd understand this advice.

There are times to tell, and times to show. Learning when either is best is part of the job of being a storyteller.

Voice is the way any one writer tells a story. It's the words used, the characters chosen, how the story flows. It has nothing to do with tell vs show, but how the writer gets their story across. Those of us who read a lot can probably tell who wrote a story just by the style, the voice. Like, name that tune.
 

Backstroke_Italics

Senior Member
It's worth pointing out that "show don't tell" does not mean dramatic narration over brief narration or dialogue. If you write "Then Jacob felt sad," anyone is going to tell you to show rather than tell. But how do you show? You could show with a whole lot of text that looks like telling. For example, maybe Jacob tells another character an extended story about his life that has made him so sad. In a literal sense, we are telling our reader rather than showing them. But by breaking the phrase :Jacob was sad" into an emotional journey which the reader can travel with us, we are abiding by the principle of show don't tell.
 

VRanger

Staff member
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I agree that, as writers, we should stop disciplining each other with the rod of "show don't tell."

Me too, and why is that? Because 9 out of 10 people who harp on "Show, don't tell" have little idea what they're talking about. They can't give the advice because they don't understand the concept. Even if they DO understand the concept, they're probably not regarding a "tell" in the context of the entire work, so they don't understand the author's balance (pacing).

Certainly, this is a good subject for every author to study, consider, and evaluate against their own prose. Except for a rank beginner begging advice, it's probably not something we can accurately critique for another author.

I'll hyper link the blog, but I both applauded and was amused by this:
When is it okay to tell?
* when you need faster pacing
* to show a minimal moment
* as a way to move your story forward
* if you don’t want your book to finish at 350,000 words


The last bullet point caused me audible amusement. :) The blogger also suggests that sometimes too much "telling" can exhaust your reader. The blogger does suggest that "telling" carries the author's voice ... as well as showing does.

https://writersinthestormblog.com/2019/12/show-dont-tell-misunderstood/
 
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VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
UPDATE: I've learned the hard way the "showing" one-hundred percent of the time can lead to hideously flowery text.

It could be flowery, but it can also be 'minutiae overload'. "Clean-shaven' as an adjective is better than a paragraph describing the process of shaving ... unless you have something else to build on with that paragraph.

I could see having a guy go through the process of shaving, then you shock the reader with the ghost's face in the mirror. :)

Of course, "showing" by writing the process of shaving is kind of a rookie way of servicing "show, don't tell". There could be other ways to do it, but I think something like, "They brushed cheeks, and she didn't even get whisker-burn" might also be overdoing it, as well as a mood spoiler.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Right, and overload of visual details. I read a story the other week where the author basically tortured me by "showing" the seasons passing for several years, and I wasn't sure why I didn't like it.
 
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