How to write fiction

How to write fiction without explaining…or maybe explaining

man in blue dress shirt sitting beside woman in gray blazer
Photo by cottonbro on

How to write fiction without explaining…or maybe explaining

Are movie scripts written the same way as a novel? Is it similar to create a comic to write a play script? Are all media written the same way?

No…More or less. Novel, short stories, comics, movies, TV series, plays… We share this idea/will/purpose to tell something and doing it well. In an ENTERTAINING way and with a message. Something to keep our audience quiet, seated and enjoying. Add thinking (without them realizing).

To the most, it is that all these media follow this one and seemingly only rule:

“Show, don’t tell”.

Robert McKee is one of those whose opinion is never to explain anything neither to think our audience is even more stupid than us. That we must obviate certain information. To be very careful in showing, not exposing. A rule that ends up being strange and very difficult to comply by. Why ?

Let’s think together. Robert McKee talks about movie scripts not novels. What do movies do that novels don’t? Music, a camera which can be angled and tell us “Here is your heroe”, moving images. What do theatre plays have that comics don’t? Real time events, dialogues that can be used to hide information and a related stage limited budget…

Obvi..ous? So long you have never tried to write anything, it is. The moment you decide to write something and fulfil the expectation of showing, not telling; you start to question how much of it is really obvious.

Why does explaining become necessary in some cases?

Corry L. Lee, the author of “Empire. Revolution. Magic”, mentions in Terriblemindshow thatwriters are warned not to expose but to show (repeatedly); when sometimes she considers explaining necessary. How magic does work for example. Since whenever you’re trying to create something that hasn’t been invented yet; there’s no ail but to explain. Traditional magic? You take out the magic wand, say a few words and voilá; magic system guaranteed. But, what happens if magic happens because of a virus? You take a breath and explain how it works… Based upon your expertise level.

The more experienced you’re, the less you’ll have to explain anything cause you start to understand how to work out “SHOWING”. Showing is more taxing than explaining. Nonetheless, explaining also requires a certain level of ability. Not everyone can explain things in a comprehensible way. There are those whom being masters in Chemistry, have no idea how to explain why is it that water is a vital liquid.  Which is why if you’re barely starting, you might have to explain.

Plus, explanations have the quick perk of giving context quickly. Terry Pratchett goes on to explain how the light in the Discworld happens to work so we understand how is it that a broom can go fly faster than light[1]… in two or three lines. There’s stuff you can’t simply show. However, you can’t just large a long explanation.

In  “Katsuai Monster”, Narazaki Souta uses monologue to have us understand in less than a page why the main carácter has to “eat” bodily fluids (of all kind). Otherwise, she would have had to add more pages to show us. And adding pages is not precisely good whenever you’re page limited by format due to page imposition[2].

Explanations are sorta like arrows in the map saying “YOU ARE HERE” to guide the reader through the most confusing parts.

Recently, something happened about explanations to me. I had suppressed all explanations trying to “only show”. One of my friends told me the reading was confusing. And confusing is the one thing you can’t never afford when writing. Your writing has to be as clear as chicken broth since neither novels nor short stories have this “highlight” movies have. The one which shows you where is the important info…. To look down at reader’s intelligence is a world apart from being unclear about what we’re showing. 

And, it could just be that movies, TV series, theater and very recently, digital comics; have music. Music is an ace under the sleeve to manipulate feelings. Robert Mckee oversees this fact. A more or less well planned scene can become a huge bomb just because of good music. I mean, imagine Shark without the tuntuntun tuntutun… The sound is more than enough to get goosebumps. And saves you from explaining. But books can’t have music… Fortunately!

We need to be clever when reading writing manuals such as this one. Like, share, subscribe, etc.

[1] Being concise, dawn’s light.

[2] A way to match pages into an offset plate’s arrangement. Being offset a traditional printing system which requires a bigger amount of products being printed than the ones digital printing requires.

Deja un comentario