I know, what am I doing writing on Valentine’s Day… well, I have nothing else to do! I’m a romance author with no romance…
I’m not one to normally complain about another author, use them as an example… definitely. Whether that’s still just a nicer way to say I’m complaining… that’s up to you to decide. I often use these examples when I’m teaching though most of it is just a way to give examples for plot and characters so budding writers are able to connect what they are learning to something solid.
I, for some reason, enjoy reading Kate Morton. I’m not sure why exactly because by my definition her work is more literary than I usually prefer. I don’t need to know how many shades of yellow the sun is but she does weave good stories. I’m a “just tell the story” gal.
However… what is the one thing we are all taught? Whether you are a self-learner or have an MFA that one message that is driven home is SHOW, DON’T TELL!
Well, I’m reading along in The Lake House and you have to know that the book does bounce from one era to another to tell the story and it tells the story from the perspective of multiple characters… fine, I can handle that. BUT… at one point the elderly main character goes to visit her sister and the story shifts in the next chapter away from that. When that character is waiting to meet the young main character several chapters later she flashes back to the entire conversation she had with her sister which led to the meeting! She’s TELLING the entire encounter rather than SHOWING it.
There’s at least one way she could have gone around that. She could have gone back to the conversation in “live” time where she could have made the emotions raw rather than her telling how what she was told made her feel.
I will finish reading the book as it’s an interesting story and I want to see how it ends. Then it will go on the shelf with the other four books she’s written.
We all do our best to show, not tell when we’re writing. Perhaps it was one of those things that was merely overlooked in this example. We all overlook things and we all look back and ask ourselves, with an eye roll, why we didn’t do that a different way… it’s just the way it works for us.
We just have to work harder when it comes to that rule and make sure we’re building our plots scene by scene as show, not tell.
We all have to tell sometimes!