Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

I’ve been reading more and writing less the past few days.  Chapters on showing versus telling, viewpoint and narration, and characterization (still within Mr. Lukeman’s guide).  Not a nail-biting Stephen King saga, but for a struggling writer the material is absorbing– especially characterization. 

A few bulleted problems he lists:  not establishing characters before diving into the story, cliche characters, too many characters, and the unsympathetic protagonist.  I was initially concerned that some of my characters were too “out there” or unbelievable; however, I realized that many best-selling books contain characters who, if described in two sentences, would seem completely unrealistic to the reader.  It’s the humanistic qualities these characters possess– their plight, motives, quirks– that keep readers bound to the pages.  Two words can verify this:  Harry Potter.  Two more words:  Star Wars. 

My characters are off-beat, but you can relate to them.  Even Sigmund, the bovine who wants so desperately to be someone else that he slowly starts to believe he’s someone else.  (Something we can understand, yes?)  The tricky part is showing this.  The act of showing that these characters have specific desires instead of telling the reader straight out is the goal.  It takes time, but creates an engaging story. 

To make this happen, I think you must know your characters well.  I knew a few of my characters well, but was clueless to the motives behind the other characters’ actions.  So I thought I should ask them. 

Enter the interviews. 

I began to interview characters using a Q & A type of format.  Or at least, that’s what I had planned.  Believe it or not, interviewing imaginary characters doesn’t always pan out as smoothly as you’d like to think it would.  My first chat, with one ADHD-soaked Dick Kabonic, owner of Kabonic Wet Divide Exploration and Other Stuff, Too, began the series of interviews with semi-contained chaos.  Sigmund, the determined bovine, followed up brilliantly with his endearing madness. 

Am I myself mad for doing this?  I don’t know.  I question whether my fetus is going to have normal brain functioning. 

At any rate, starting tomorrow I’m going to post these interviews just for the hell of it.  You’ll either have a chuckle or feel immense gratitude for your own mental stability.


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