How to Show vs. Tell

How to Show vs. Tell

It can be one of the most intimidating commands for writers, i.e., “Show, don’t tell.” I remember hearing it in grade school, high school, and later, writer’s conferences. But how can you show something through the written word? It’s not like you’re making a video, drawing a picture, or animating cartoons. So where does that leave a writer who wants to capture a reader’s attention through words? It seems like an oxymoron, an impossible, hair-pulling task, right? But there are some strategies and techniques writers can turn to in the face of such madness. Read on to find out more.

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How to Create a Three Act Structure

How to Create a Three Act Structure
How to Create a Three Act Structure

In general stories can be divided into three major sections: Acts 1, 2, and 3. Here is a breakdown of what should be included in each Act.

Act 1

The First Act sets the scene and the tone for your story. In this Act, you will introduce your characters and establish what normal life is like, including the setting and the tone. For example, in Goodnight Moon, the author sets the scene in the first few pages by describing everything in the room, including the characters, i.e.., “a comb and a brush… and a quiet old lady who was whispering hush.” The author uses lyrical language that is rhythmical and soothing.

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How to Add Red Herrings to your Story

How to Add Red Herrings
How to Add Red Herrings

Red herrings are elements in your story that lead the protagonist in the wrong direction of reaching his or her goals. If you’ve ever read mystery novels like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, you know the value of red herrings. They help to add tension and conflict to a story.

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Does your Story Have a Major Dramatic Question?

How to Add the MDQ

Does your story have an MDQ? What’s the MDQ you ask? The BIG QUESTION, i.e., will your character blank? “Will Billy find his bicycle?”, or “Will Janie learn to eat her vegetables?” Basically, “Will my protagonist achieve his or her goal?” The MDQ, aka the Major Dramatic Question is pretty important when writing a story. Without this question there is no story.

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