Thursday, November 17, 2011

When Telling Is Too Much

I’ve just put down a book after being 130 pages into it. It was a marginally good story with lots of emotions I could identify with. The problem? The damned author was telling me every last detail, every nuance of emotion each character was feeling. He left nothing for me to discover, nothing to engage my brain. He spoon-fed me everything. He must think I’m a moron. What I think is, the story was boring because of the way it was told.

Unfortunately, the last two books I’ve read, by authors I respect, have shared this identical problem. It’s maddening. It’s sloppy writing and laziness on the part of the author. Yes, it takes more effort and creativity to show what characters are feeling, rather than simply telling the reader. If they want easy, then they should find something else to do other than writing. There is already enough bad writing on the market without them adding to the heap.

Give me actions!!! Don’t tell me the protagonist is mad. Show him punching his fist through the wall. Show me what they are doing, and let me figure out what the characters are feeling.

I feel like these writers should be made to write a screenplay because there is no telling, at all, in scripts. They would be forced to think about how to show what the characters are feeling. They would be forced to expand their creativity to find ways to express feelings through actions. That is the mark of a good writer.

The frustrating part for me is, I know both these writers can do so much better. I’ve seen them do it. They can both write rings around me when they are on…but not this time. It feels like they rushed to get these stories to market without spending the time to polish them. Sad.

Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox for now. I’m not mad, merely disappointed.

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