I won’t be doing these every day, or I’ll run out of steam real soon. I figured I’d start off with the first part right away though – while I’m still excited about the idea.
Yesterday, I mentioned Show, Don’t Tell as an example of catchy but overly simplified piece of writing advice. This image basically covers that rule, but it also tries to trick you into figuring out the reasoning behind the advice.
I very firmly believe that no matter how well I describe something, or how many words I use, I will never be able to communicate the exact image in my head to any of my readers. Fortunately, I do not have to.
Instead, what I want to do is give my readers the tools they need to create their own images. As long as their image matches what’s required of the story, it doesn’t matter if it’s not the same as mine.
If I give my reader the tools to build their own image they become more invested in it. By adding something of their own to the image it becomes more real to them than if I try to force my vision upon them.
There is a warning hidden in the message in the picture. It may not be obvious right away, and it’s probably worthy of a picture of its own, but I’ll mention it here anyway:
Do not mess up the reader’s own image.
What I mean here is that you need to keep track of what you have described and what you haven’t. For everything you describe, there are millions of things you do not mention. For every single one of these things, the reader has the option to imagine something other than what you are imagining.
If you return to your description at a later time and add more details, it is very likely that you will contradict what your reader imagined. This in turn has a very high probability of breaking their immersion and bringing them out of the story. I don’t want that to happen to me when I’m reading, and I don’t want it to happen to my readers.
That’s it for this time. I’ll probably do next post in the Canned Wisdom series on Wednesday or Tuesday next week. I may post something or other about my book, or about whatever else comes to mind in the meantime though.
Finally, do you have any comments or questions or opinions on what I write above? Please feel free to leave a comment below. :)