This is a guest post from Aud Neal.
Show, don’t tell. It’s the mantra of the writing world and the most common bit of advice you’ll hear when it comes to tips for improving your writing. But what does this phrase actually mean?
It’s simple, really. Rather than coming right out and telling your readers the information you want them to learn about your characters (or, in the case of digital scrapbooking, your friends and family), you show them what these people are like, through their thoughts, actions, looks, relationships, and more. In short, everything that a person thinks, says, and does becomes a way for you to reveal and record more information about him or her.
How can you put this advice to work on your scrapbook pages? With three simple techniques:
1. Use dialogue. Don’t tell me that your kids are funny; write down the specific things they say and do. The more instances of real conversation that you can include in your pages, the better; these go a long way toward really capturing a moment and keeping it from being lost forever. Don’t just rely on your memory to capture the cute mispronunciations or serious questions of your little ones, either; make sure you keep a small notebook handy. This will make a great start to a writer’s notebook.
2. Use your five senses. Don’t tell me that it was a beautiful spring day â€“ show me! What color were the leaves? How did the flowers smell? What did the breeze feel like? Use smells, sounds, textures, and tastes in addition to what you see; allow your reader to completely experience the moment with you. You’ll often find that as you begin to include these kinds of details in your journaling, you have more to say, and more details will come to you during the writing process.
3. Be specific. Or, I should say be selectively specific. Include details, but don’t go overboard. Focus on using the most relevant details to help create mood or tone; think about how you want your readers to react to what you are writing, and then choose details to help create that reaction.