Overwhelming the Reader

Is there such a thing as overwheliming our readers with too much of the ‘show, don’t tell’ theory? Maybe at times the reader just wants the writer to tell!

I’m the first to admit there is a thin line here. Showing is an artform for the writer who scavenges for words and descriptions that show without being too overdone or flowery which translates to an overwhelmed reader. On the other hand the writer wants the reader to enjoy imagining the scenes and characters; in fact it is of utmost importance that the reader do this in order to side with the villian or the victim. We can’t take that away; stories and books would never sell and that is a goal for writers, let’s admit it: reader gets emotionally involved, writer sells.

We’ve all read the first few pages of a book and tossed it behind the couch or in a closet to gather dust. This is a case of where the writer has left nothing to the imagination for the reader. If the villian is sneaky and fooling everyone around him or her, the reader wants to be sure before the end of the book he or she gets their just dues. In the meantime the reader wants to relate to at least two more characters, if not more, in some way. This moves the story along. When I’m the reader, I want to feel scared, angry, elated and experience other emotions that surge within me. It’s true, as a reader I have known my blood pressure to rise on occasion but it’s worth it for a good story. For that matter, it rises at times when I’m writing, especially if the villian parellels someone I’ve known in the past and I’ve never let go of injustices hurled at me for no reason. Sorry, I digress.

So should a writer never tell? Of course not. Writers are allowed to tell here and there but showing is more fun and more productive for both reader and writer.


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