Gone are the days when most readers could appreciate a book written in third person omniscient, when "he said", "she said" tags were not the mark of "lazy writing" and narrative "telling" wasn't the unpardonable sin. We aspiring authors are told to forget storytelling, and "show" the movie inside our heads. Metaphors and similes are our friends, and finding original ways to describe cliched expressions/feelings can be more exciting than stumbling upon buried treasure.
But. What if James Scott Bell is on to something?
I just finished chapter seven of "Plot & Structure", in which Bell covers what he calls "the intensity scale". He says we should rate the intensity of a scene using numbers between "0" and "10" ("0" being no intensity and "10" being max intensity). Anything below a "5" should be written in "telling" form. His reason? To save "showing" for the more intense scenes, and therefore spotlight the emotion and experience for the reader. Bell claims that if you write an entire book in "showing" form, the reader will be exhausted by the end, and the more critical scenes won't stand out like you want them to.
It makes sense, but I'm still very hesitant to take him up on his suggestions because "show, show, show!" has been drilled into my head by authors, agents, readers and publishers alike, and this is the first time I have ever heard of a scenario where its okay to write in "telling" form.
What do you think? Do you agree with James Scott Bell? Should a writer write low-key scenes in "telling" form to make the more intense scenes more dramatic?
A Glimpse Inside the Roman Home
2 hours ago