Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Showing Vs. Telling

As writers, we're told to show a scene, an emotion, a pivotal event instead of tell the reader about it. Telling removes the reader from the experience and makes it less powerful.


I remember an episode of Frasier when he came home from karaoke with some people from work and was telling his father about it. I was ROFL, no joke, at his delivery at some of the impossible events he described. At the very end of the episode, during the credits, some of the karaoke scene was shown, and I didn't find it as funny as his description.

Why am I talking about Frasier on the Supernatural blog? Because I've been a bit disappointed with some of the "showing" on Supernatural, most recently Sam's visit in hell. I understand SPN doesn't have a big budget for special effects, and I understand they wanted to show Sam scratching at that wall in his head. But I trust its excellent writers to help ME form a picture in my head. They've been doing so all year, talking about the cage and Sam being flayed alive and wow, that was scary. So showing him screaming against a bad 80s video took some of the power of that from me.

Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to have seen Castiel leading his army into hell to rescue Dean, or the battle of the psychic kids, if it was able to be done right. Those would absolutely be awesome scenes with the right budget. But until SPN gets a better budget, I'd rather the writers tell me than take the power away by showing.

What do you think? Am I just cranky?