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Food for thought Filler 2137

#Discussion#Exercise

A bit of an exercise for reviewers, authors, or anyone who wants to give it a little thought. Without using examples or the words "show" or "tell," define or describe show vs. tell and detail how to fix a story when it has been described to have show vs. tell issues.

Tactical!fRainBOoMw 2143

I explain it this way quite regularly:

"Tagging" emotions or tone or whatever does not count as description. Look for places where it matters, and use imagery instead of such things.

It's quite easy to explain it this way if you use an example. The point is to show that using adverbs (or other forms of "telling") actually results in skipping description.

Casca!blANCA/Sq2 2144

File: 1354880788611.png (434.26 KB, 1075x1513, alice_lonely_two.png)

>>2143
This sounds a lot better than the way I'd put it:

It's creating an image via the use of actions, details and expressions so as to emulate nuances, emotions, tone, the whole shebang we call "interaction", as experienced in real life.

Soundslikeponies!bQsJPGMNfw 2146

File: 1354882154914.png (195.28 KB, 900x1073, vinyl_scratch_enjoys_her_milks…)

You're too blunt with your descriptions. They lack flavour and pull. Saying the state of things, or the state of emotions, does not have the same pull as describing why they're like that. Rather than state that "Mary is happy," try to state first the event that makes her happy, followed by a sign, such as a smile or laugh, of that happiness.

It's similarly dull to state the being of things. "The book was brand new" doesn't have the same attraction as a more detailed description of what makes it new. A slightly more detailed description, possibly avoiding state of being verbs, would give the message more strength. "New book smell seeped from its pages, and the cover was nick free and in pristine condition."

It's mostly about avoiding generalization. State of being is perfectly acceptable where details would be excessive or cumbersome, or where there is no greater breakdown of the parts.

2165

File: 1354905032786.png (114.67 KB, 484x353, Sweetie Belle131784779398.png)

There's a joke that I really like that describes the idea perfectly.

Sweetie Belle looked down at her hoof; a red trickle of blood pour out of it. The corners of her eyes started to well up with tears. She sniffled as she tried to lick the cut. Sweetie Belle was sad and hurt.

Granted that's not the best example, but the only better ones I can think of at the moment are about lesbianism and the joke doesn't really work with "Lyra and Bon Bon kissed." as the punchline.

Tactical!fRainBOoMw 2170

>>2165

I don't think that joke came through. You're describing something then adding the "what not to do," so it's like your bad example is just adding a cherry on top of what you've already properly described.

Let me go pull out the example that I used in a TTG review.

Applejack could tell by looking at Rainbow Dash that things were going pretty darn well.
vs
Rainbow Dash's entire body shook as she let out a long moan, neck muscles tensing and tail thrashing.


In retrospect, that example is extra good because it shows that telling can serve a purpose.
This post was edited by its author on .

2173

>>2170
Again, not the best example. It works better when you have a whole huge paragraph of Show, then a sentence of Tell at the end.

Exercise, part 2 Filler 2196

File: 1354950294893.jpg (45.25 KB, 250x204, 115_r.jpg)

Now, using someone else's definition or description of what show vs. tell is, and use it to describe how to (for a lack of a better word) fix the following passage of about 900 words. This shouldn't be line-by-lining. Don't worry about grammar, either.

Excerpt from The Epiphany by NinesTempest:
http://www.fimfiction.net/story/115/
"The last one!" Said Rainbow Dash, as she easily kicked away a cloud out of the sky. The blue-furred and rainbow-maned pegasus grinned at her friend, Fluttershy. With a yellow coat and wings and pink mane, she clapped as loud as she could. Rainbow Dash strained to hear it.

"Wow, that was faster than even 10 seconds!" She said, the excitement in her voice very clear, if anypony could hear her.

Rainbow looked around the sky. The sky was bright and blue, the warmth of the mid-afternoon sun flowing over all of Ponyville that afternoon. Rainbow Dash had just finished clearing the skies of all the clouds, leaving a clear day for the Ponyville below. She didn’t respond for almost a minute, lost in the beauty of the clear blue sky. She turned finally, nodding. "Well, duh, there were only like 8 clouds today. I didn't really try to do it fast because there was, you know, no reason to."

"Well, I don't know, I'd think you'd want to make the town look nice on Twilight's Birthday!" Fluttershy said. "She's been here for a bit over a year now!"

"I know how long she's been here, Fluttershy. I wish she had just told us she had her birthday so close to when she got here. I swear that pinkie almost cried when she heard we'd missed her firth birthday in Ponyville." She sighed. "Besides, I could have cleared the skies that day almost twice as fast!"

Twilight Sparkle, who had not been used to the idea of friends when she first arrived, hadn't ever thought of having a birthday party. The day came and went, and she never bothered mentioning it. By sheer coincidence, Applejack had asked her days later, and upon hearing the date, then told the rest of Twilight's friends about it. Since then, all of them had agreed to never mention it until the next year, to plan a surprise party for her.

"Oh, I know you could!" Said Fluttershy. Without warning, she felt something nudge her flank. She squeaked in meek fear and dashed up to and behind Rainbow Dash, looking down where she had felt something in the sky.

"… That's a cloud, Fluttershy." Indeed, a cloud had simply floated a little bit due to some wind, and nudged the timid pony.

She meeped, simply trembling in place.

"I think you know what clouds are, and why they can't hurt you. Hey, why don't you try and just break this one!" Rainbow darted off to the cloud and laid down on it. She was close to the edge, the body of the cloud exposed so that a moderately strong impact would easily dissipate it. "Come on, it'll be easy!" She swung down a hoof, patting the spot where Fluttershy should try to kick it.

Fluttershy hovered down slowly, landing on the cloud. She moved it around, as if looking inside of it for something. She patted the middle of the cloud a little, and hovered up a bit again. She took a deep breath, and dived at the cloud, back hooves first. She fell right through it, the cloud vanishing and leaving Rainbow to have to rely on her wings again to stay in the air. She stopped herself only after several long seconds, not getting anywhere near the ground, but definitely going farther than the cloud. She floated back up and gave Rainbow Dash a silly grin. "That was… cool." She said, her excitement once again hidden in the volume of her voice.

"Hehe." Chuckled Rainbow Dash. Fluttershy wasn't normally this energetic, and the fact that she decided to try and… 'attack' a cloud without protest meant her confidence was definitely building. She didn't seem like it, but getting a 'way to go' or a 'yay' out of her was more than Rainbow Dash had ever been expecting. Of course, she should realize that once the plane of their relationship changed, how she'd act would change too. "Okay Fluttershy, I'm going off now. I'm going to check in on Pinkie Pie about the party. Remember, we don't tell Twilight about it. As far as she knows, we don't even know her birthday is today! We'll meet up before the party at your place, right?"

Fluttershy nodded. She'd grown accustomed to the visits from Rainbow Dash, and even now looked forward to them. "That would be… nice." She smiled at her.

Rainbow Dash floated over to her, and rubbed her face in Fluttershy's mane, giggling. "Thank you." She gave Fluttershy a lazy smile.

Her small smile was comforting to Rainbow Dash as she pulled away slightly. "Oh, it's no problem Rainbow Dash." She started floating away in the direction of her home. "I'll see you later then!"

Rainbow Dash waved as she darted off toward Sugar Cube Corner, where Pinkie Pie lived and worked in her family bakery. Fluttershy, alone now, grew a somber expression as she slowly started to fly to her own home. She kept thinking about Rainbow Dash, and how every day they had met, she would say thank you when they were done hanging out, no matter what. She had been a lot nicer to her lately, especially since the Equestria's Best Young Fliers Competition at Cloudsdale, about a year previous.

She started the trip home, gliding over the Everfree Forest, and as she went, her thoughts drfited back to that day, two months ago where both her and Rainbow Dash's life changed.


If either the definition is not enough to fix the passage or the passage is not fixable under the definition, explain why.

The goal of this exercise is to 1. obtain a fuller understanding of what show vs. tell is, nuances and all, 2. understand when to employ either, and 3. use those understandings to get a concrete definition of show vs. tell that those on the receiving end of a review can better understand it themselves, rather than having to rely on a reviewer to point out where either has been used improperly and how to fix it.
This post was edited by a moderator on .

Demetrius!WDFBcC5x22 2201

File: 1354959861306.png (376.35 KB, 613x613, 133384228561.png)

>>2196
The worst of this passage's strain of tell-itis lies in how it describes the way characters generally act and feel through a vague recollection of how they've been in recent history or an outright declaration, rather than the more direct way of building them out naturally through the actual narration of the now. The fact that it is performed right when it's necessary, to drum up a perception of the characters and how they're expected to behave, only worsens its forcefulness.

In my opinion, exposition about things that have been happening in the continuous sense as a part of the setting and circumstances should rarely if ever be used when describing a character. It just seems to me that talking about events in recent history to describe a thing's general and current behavior is better suited for things that have a sort of constancy (or at least short-term constancy). Speaking of a character like that (rather than some natural phenomenon) would thus be best suited for characters that similarly have a sort of constancy, at least up until the current point in narration.

Example: "For days my captor had occasionaly spat, but never talked to me despite every question I probed him with."

Another example of it would be if the character in question is exhibiting some strange behavior that's indicative of something suspicious or disastrous about to happen, or past events described by another character. I'm suddenly reminded of Deckard Cain's description of the hero who vanquished Diablo:

Yet, as the weeks passed, our hero became increasingly aloof. He kept his distance from the rest of the townsfolk and seemed to lapse into a dark, brooding depression. I thought that perhaps his ordeal had been so disturbing that he simply could not put it out of his mind.
The hero seemed more tormented every passing day. I remember he awoke many times — screaming in the night — always something about 'the East'.


One other thing:
> She'd grown accustomed to the visits from Rainbow Dash, and even now looked forward to them.
If this could be in the passage at all, it would be better suited for the beginning of the passage, to introduce the circumstances.


Sorry, I know I'm not exactly following guidelines here, but I thought I needed to say that.

Now I'll add some proper participation:

I want to say sounslikeponies has this one mostly covered. Blunt descriptions and saying the state of things. Emphasis added:

> "Hehe." Chuckled Rainbow Dash. Fluttershy wasn't normally this energetic

> She gave Fluttershy a lazy smile.
> lost in the beauty of the clear blue sky
> Twilight Sparkle, who had not been used to the idea of friends when she first arrived
> She floated back up and gave Rainbow Dash a silly grin.
> Her small smile was comforting to Rainbow Dash as she pulled away slightly.
> She had been a lot nicer to her lately
This post was edited by its author on .

Eustatian!Wings60m9. 2203

Part one, a kouan:

I cannot advise you.

The road leading West would pass through fields of illustration and description, examples which I cannot give.

The road leading East would lead me to speak clearly the Forbidden Words.

So I sit at the fork, and thus I advise you: where your tale goes East, it may better go West.


Part two:

No definition of show/tell can help this passage yet. You know as well as I do (and I imagine Nines does too!) that stilted grammar and (to a lesser extent) non-standard punctuation break flow so badly that level-of-detail concerns are not the priority.

No fair picking on an any author's early work like that, either. (Nines writes better than this now.)

Line-edit by myself, because I can't have this discussion without it.
"And that's the last one!" said Rainbow Dash, as she casually kicked a cloud out of the sky. She was a pegasus with sky-blue coat and plumage. Her tail and mane were the six colors of the rainbow.

She smiled at her friend Fluttershy, a second pegasus with a yellow coat and pink mane, who clapped her hooves together as loudly as she could. Rainbow Dash could hardly hear her.

"Wow, that was even less than ten seconds!" Fluttershy said. If anypony could have heard her, the excitement in her voice would have been clear.

Rainbow looked around the sky. It was bright and blue, and the warmth of the sun poured out over all of Ponyville that afternoon. Rainbow Dash had just finished clearing the skies of all its clouds, leaving a clear day for Ponyville below. She didn’t respond for almost a minute, lost in the beauty of the clear blue sky. She turned finally and nodded. "Well, duh, there were only like eight clouds today. I didn't really try to do it fast because there was, you know, no reason to."

"Well, I don't know, I'd think you'd want to make the town look nice on Twilight's Birthday!" Fluttershy said. "She's been here for a bit over a year now!"

"I know how long she's been here, Fluttershy. I wish she had just told us she had her birthday so close to when she got here. I swear that Pinkie almost cried when she heard we'd missed her first birthday in Ponyville."

Twilight Sparkle hadn't been used to having friends when she arrived, and it simply didn't occur to her that they might care about her birthday. The day came and went like any other. By sheer coincidence, Applejack had asked her a few days after the fact.

Since then, all of them had agreed to never mention Twilight's birthday directly - not until the surprise party now nearly a year in the making.

Without warning, something nudged Fluttershy's flank. She squeaked in meek fear and zipped behind Rainbow Dash and looked back down where she had felt something in the sky.

Dash rolled her eyes. "That's a cloud, Fluttershy." Indeed, a cloud had simply floated a little bit in the wind, and bumped into the timid pony.

Fluttershy meeped and trembled in place.

"I think you know what clouds are, and why they can't hurt you. Hey, why don't you try and break just this one!"

Rainbow darted off to the cloud and lay down on it close to the edge. Below her the body of the cloud was exposed. A moderately strong impact would easily dissipate it. "Come on, it'll be easy!" She swung down a hoof and marked the spot where Fluttershy should try to kick it.

Fluttershy hovered down slowly and landed on the cloud. She moved it around. She patted the middle of the cloud a little, as if looking for something. Then she hovered up over it, took a deep breath, and dived back hooves first at the cloud. The cloud puffed into a fading ring of mist around where Fluttershy had run it through. Rainbow fell and spread her wings to keep herself in the air.

Fluttershy stopped herself only after several long seconds, not getting anywhere near the ground, but definitely going farther than the cloud. She floated back up and gave Rainbow Dash a silly grin. "That was… cool." Once again her excitement barely rose above the whisper of her voice.

"Hehe." Rainbow Dash chuckled. Fluttershy wasn't normally this energetic, and the fact that she decided to try and attack a cloud without too much promping meant that her confidence was definitely building. Her enthusiasm could use some work, but getting a 'way to go' or a 'yay' out of her was more than Rainbow Dash had expected at first.

Of course, she should realize that once the plane of their relationship changed, how she'd act would change too. [[Ed. Note - I am entirely confused whose perspective this is: Dash's or the narrator's?]]

"Okay Fluttershy, I'm going off now. I'm going to check in on Pinkie Pie about the party. Remember, we don't tell Twilight about it. As far as she knows, we don't even know her birthday is today! We'll meet up before the party at your place, right?"

Fluttershy nodded. She'd grown accustomed to the visits from Rainbow Dash and even now looked forward to them. "That would be… nice." She smiled. She smiled at her fillyfriend.

Rainbow Dash floated over to her and rubbed her face in Fluttershy's mane and giggled. "Thank you." She gave Fluttershy a lazy smile.

Her small smile was comforting to Rainbow Dash as she pulled away slightly. [[again, perspictive: Dash or Fluttershy]]

"Oh, it's no problem Rainbow Dash." Fluttershy let herself drift in the direction of her home. "I'll see you later then!"

Rainbow Dash waved and then darted off toward Sugar Cube Corner, where Pinkie Pie lived and worked in her family's bakery.

Fluttershy was now alone and a somber expression grew on her face as she slowly started to fly home. She couldn't stop thinking about Rainbow Dash, and how every day they'd meed, she would say thank you when they were done hanging out, no matter what. Dash had been a lot nicer to her lately, especially since the Equestria's Best Young Fliers Competition at Cloudsdale, about a year previous.

Fluttershy glided over the Everfree Forest, and as she went, her thoughts drfited back to that day, two months ago, when Rainbow Dash's life and her own both changed.

2319

My thought is that a story's much like a puzzle, where each paragraph is but a piece of the whole.

The sentences within those paragraphs compose the shapes of the pieces, whereas the wording creates colors.

As puzzles are not made of only one singular piece, so too are they not made of one singular type of piece or color of piece. That admittedly makes them easy to put together, but it makes them kind of boring as well. Why work at it if we aren't going to have any fun with it?

You must make a puzzle that is, to some greater or lesser degree, challenging and yet cohesive. If we cannot see why a piece goes into one place, versus another, then we have no interest in continuing the puzzle, or we make it into a tie-died mess instead of a clear picture. So each piece must fit in to one next to it, yet also be different enough from its neighbors so that we want to keep putting the story together, because now the puzzle holds all of our attention, and complete it properly.
This post was edited by its author on .

Anonymous 2324

>>2203
That's not a very good koan. A koan is supposed to be a non-answer. "this is why both answers are no good" isn't a non-answer.

Can't be arsed to participate proper-like. Maybe another time.

Tactical!fRainBOoMw 2407

Actually, I think I have a single-sentence way to explain SDT.

"This description would be better if you used actual imagery instead. This is what everyone means by show-don't-tell."


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