The Mini-Challenge: A piece of creative writing, 500 words or less, that makes us laugh. (Works that make us chuckle, guffaw, giggle, chortle, etc. will also be considered). There are no rules.
Why? Exploring Tumblr, we’ve noticed that people like to write things that are sad. Characters die all over the place, there are lots of creys, and people are altogether not having a very good time. We wanted to create this challenge to encourage our followers to try some humor.
The Rules. (Yeah, we lied about the “no rules” thing).
We will also be selecting a few winning entries (oooh, ahhh!), that will be designated as such.
If you have questions about this Mini Challenge, please use our ask box. We will answer all questions publicly (and probably in groups) there. Thank you.
Also, massive thanks to Frida-RPC for this snazzy graphic.
"Show, don’t tell" is a prime example of an idiom phrased so vaguely that it confuses more people than it actually helps. I promise you, though, it is helpful. You just have to be in on the underlying meaning.
So, here’s what “show, don’t tell” really means:
Write around the word you mean.
What? Okay, yeah that’s maybe a little cryptic. Let’s look at some examples!
He was angry at Julia.
He put down his paper and stared at Julia, his eyes glassy with blind incomprehension. Then, slowly at first, his face growing redder by the second, his muscles tightened in his jaw and neck and hands until the newspaper crumpled in his grip. He was on his feet, taller and more imposing than she’d ever seen him, and she could hear his teeth gnashing from across the room.
The point is to take a word like angry and describe the sorts of things the character would do or say while angry instead of coming right out and telling the reader that the character was angry. Details are important, and “showing” will always give the reader more information about the character than just “telling” would.
Another example? Don’t mind if I do!
It was early spring.
The winter frost was still melting into rain, and some days were cooler than others. The grass still crunched, but this time it was with crisp newness and not with ice, and the buds on the trees and hedgerows hinted at beautiful colors to come.
Here I’m writing around the word spring, describing the effects of spring without actually telling the reader it’s spring I’m taking about.
A little while ago I answered an ask where I talked about how “telling” might be a useful placeholder. What did I mean by that?
"Telling" as a placeholder:
They went to the store to get food for dinner.
Replaced with “showing”:
When Jan and Larry headed out on their quest for tortillas and taco seasoning, they didn’t initially think of the supermarket, but their normal grocery store, Joe’s Foods, was inexplicably closed on Tuesdays—one of its many quirks.
Larry had actually gotten out of the car to check the wrought iron gate in front of the double doors that Joe Parson, the owner and operator of Joe’s Foods, had installed to keep the neighborhood kids from, as he’d phrased it, “visiting during the closing hours.”
"Dammit, Joe!" Larry’d shouted through the gate into the darkened windows of the store. Joe wasn’t there, of course, but it must have made Larry feel better just to curse a while. After all, it was a drive out of the way to get to Joe’s Foods in the first place.
When Larry returned to the driver’s seat of their sedan, Jan suggested heading to the supermarket franchise that had asserted itself on Blighterly Road six months ago.
"We can’t go there," Larry said. "They don’t sell ‘real food’!" Well, Larry’s interpretation of "real food" was debatable, but there wasn’t much of a choice in the matter anyway, so off they went toward Blighterly Road with Larry in a sour way.
You get the idea. I just wrote in “They went to the store to get food for dinner” as a placeholder until I could write what actually happened during their excursion to the market. There are still some aspects of the “showing” example that are technically “telling.” For instance, I could have actually written dialogue for Jan when she’d suggested they go to the supermarket. Dialogue is, generally, part of “showing”, so choosing to omit dialogue and merely summarize what a character said is a choice of style. Let me repeat that in a broader sense: the choice to “show” or “tell” is one of style. Too much in either direction is poisonous for a narrative’s pacing and understandability.
A few more little things about “showing” and “telling”:
So, “show, don’t tell” is not always the case. It would be better to say “show and tell”, since the decision of how much description to use in your story is a very personal matter of style. Hopefully now, though, you understand how powerful “showing” and “telling” can be, and you will apply this new-found information to your work. I wouldn’t want your readers to suffer through purple prose because some writing help blog told you once that you’re only ever allowed to “show.”
Next time someone says “show, don’t tell” to you, ask them to be more specific. Ask them to “show” you where you need better description instead of just “telling” you how to write. Otherwise, there might be throat-punching.
More on “show, don’t tell”:
Thank you for your question! If you have any comments on this article or other questions about writing, you can message us here!
The first five people to send us proof of having written at least five hundred words on any Writer’s Block listed below will be promoted by WriteWorld.
Here is a listing of the Blocks you may use for inspiration:
YOU ONLY NEED TO USE ONE BLOCK.
If you cheat and send us “proof” of something you wrote that has nothing to do with this Challenge, you aren’t hurting anyone but yourself. The goal is to write, not to dupe WriteWorld.
Submit a link to your writing by going to THIS LINK and following the instructions found there.
The purpose of the exercise is to write. Quickly.
What are you waiting for? Stop tumbling for a few minutes and write!
The Yeah Write Review is a publication by Yeah Write, a popular creative writing Tumblr for young and aspiring writers. The YWR contains writing advice articles and accompanying stories that showcase that advice, as well as lists of novels and short stories for “further reading” on each topic.
Print and digital copies are available here.
Yeahwrite is a fantastic blog (that you should totally follow) that has compiled this magazine from the submissions of its followers. It’s definitely worth checking out.
The DFTBA short writing contest is raising money for ‘The foundation to decrease worldsuck’ this foundation is run by the Vlog brothers (Hank and John Green.) Here is a link to the foundation. Please note that this competition is not associated with them.
The prompt is ‘An act of charity’ and the story must be between 1000-3500 words.
Thanks and good luck to those taking part.
This is something I have been focusing on for the past couple of months so I decided to make it presentable. I need stuff like this around me so I don’t lose my nerve. I have noticed a lot of people have this in their brains like, automatically but I however do NOT. Maybe you are a little like me and will find it helpful.
If you offer:
Comment on this post and tell us about your blog. We want to follow you, and we want our followers to know about you.
Anonymous asked: Do you think writing needs actual real life experience? Do you need to fully experience something from beginning to end to write a deep story about it? For instance, I want to write a story about a person battling depression, but then again, I’ve never got over depression myself, therefore, I get stuck trying to figure out how the story ends or give some sort of closure to the story. Any advice?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I’ve never died, but I’ve written a death scene. I’ve never waved a magic wand or dueled a dragon or gone to Mars, but I can write about it. Why is that? Imagination and research.
Then again, perhaps your character doesn’t get over it. Maybe your story is a happy ending despite the character’s depression, or a tragedy as the character succumbs to their depression. In either case, depression will still add significant amounts of conflict the the narrative. It’s up to you.
Research and imagination. If you have both, you’ve got the means to finish your story (and to kick your own depression in the tenders, by the way).
Thank you for your question!
(Last time we’ll post it for a while, okay? There have been some new additions to the list, and we wanted to give those who missed it before a chance to add their names.)
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