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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Details & Description 203-02

In photography they say the act of looking at one thing is also the act of looking away from something else. The same can be said of description. When writing description, it’s important to consider what’s left unsaid. For example, a character stands in the middle of a street. Audiences will either assume that the street is empty or that the character is ignoring the activity around them, both of which convey meaning.

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