23 April 2019

show and tell

All the editors are hip-deep in slush, getting ready for the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec. None of us like to do it, but we do have to reject stories. To avoid this, I have a tip...

As kids we are asked to "tell a story." In creative writing classes, student-authors are often told to "show, don't tell." And, experienced authors know "there are no real writing rules." If all this seems contradictory to you, it's because it is!

When I'm reading slush, however, I look for authors who show and tell. Moreover, I look for authors who show and tell on the first page. This usually means some kind of scene-setting (telling) and some kind of dialogue (showing). The telling could be describing characters. The showing could be in-the-moment protagonist thoughts/reactions. This could be _your_idea_here_. I don't care what the showing and telling are, but the combo usually leads to effective storytelling.

In addition, savvy writers know the writerly trick: use telling in the first sentence. Think of some of the most famous first lines, e.g. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." or "I am an invisible man..." I'm sure you can think of other examples.

Send us your showing and telling stories for the August issue!

Soon, we'll start discussing the marvelous May issue!

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