Clear Storytelling II-Words & Meaning 204-05

image of an eye exam chart, seen through glasses

On the small scale, clarity is the meaning of the words the story uses; understanding the rules of grammar, as well as carefully weighing the merits of poetic language and figures of speech (simile, metaphor, analogy, etc.) It’s ensuring audiences have the necessary information to understand “why”; whether it’s why Harry Potter is famous, why he was kept out of the magical world, or why some characters adore Harry while others despise him. Carefully managing “what audiences learn” and “when they learn” is a critical component of good storytelling. (See 107-02 Background Information)

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When & How to Tell (2/3) 204-02

Techniques for Telling

Telling is the technique of summarizing or plainly stating something. Examples include summaries of events (they fought), the physical state of an object or environment (the room was a mess), or the mental, emotional, or moral state of a character (she was happy). Telling is often dismissed as bad writing, but the reality is it’s an essential writing technique. Telling helps to maintain the focus of a story by conveying essential information using a minimum of words. The technique itself denotes a hierarchy. “What I’m telling you is necessary, but it’s not important.” Telling is a way of establishing that the focus of the story lies elsewhere.

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