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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Scene & Summary 201-01

Stories are a combination of scene & summary. Even the shortest story contains at least one scene or summary. A scene is when a small span of time is covered in great detail; a combination of what characters say, the actions they take, and any relevant details. A summary is when a large span of time is covered in only a few words.

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