It is not any mystery that my favorite authors are Earnest Hemingway, Nathan Englander and George Orwell. Why do I love those writers more than I love other writers? I love them because they write in a way that allows me to be drawn into the world, where I can easily see the Ministry of Truth and Obrien’s face, that I can’t picture myself as Winston but I can see everything he is doing like I’m one of the people tasked with watching his telescreen feed.
What these writers do is they show us what is going on rather than tell.
Nathan Englander from The Tumblers
Mendel toasted her silently and, and after the blessing, sipped at his scotch, his first in so very long. He let its smoky flavor rise up and fill his head, hoping that if he drank slowly enough, if he let the scotch rest on his tongue long enough and roll gradually enough down his throat, then maybe he could cure his palate like the oak slats of a cask. Maybe then he could keep the warmth and the comfort with him for however much longer God might deem that they should survive.
George Orwell from 1984
He took down from the shelf a bottle of colorless liquid with a plain white label marked VICTORY GIN. It gave off a sickly, oily smell, as of a Chinese rice-spirit. Winston poured out nearly a teacupful, nerved himself for a shock, and gulped it down like a dose of medicine.
Earnest Hemingway from Hills like White Elephants
‘Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?’ [the girl said]
He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.
‘But I don’t want you to,’ he said, ‘I don’t care anything about it.’
‘I’ll scream,’ the girl said.
The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. ‘The train comes in five minutes,’ she said.
‘What did she say?’ asked the girl.
‘That the train is coming in five minutes.’
The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.
As you can see, they really go out of their way not to say anything directly to the reader. You can see from Englander that Mendel hasn’t had any scotch in so long and that he might not have eaten any food in a while also that he is savoring the drink because it might be particularly good scotch. And Orwell has Winston drinking some terribly disgusting gin that he doesn’t want to drink but seemingly needs to. Then there is for your review, Hemingway’s very famous Hills like White Elephants where you can see so many different problems going on with these two including the apparent age and maturity difference between the man and the ‘girl’ as well as their knowledge difference and the apparent change in language.
All of these passages are subtle. They don’t just throw out the information for you, it makes you a detective and places you actively in these stories and makes it into a story that you can read again and again.
Now as a contrast let us look at something from Twilight: New Moon.
I skipped breakfast, in a hurry to get out of the house as quickly as possible. I wasn’t entirely able to avoid my dad, and so I had to spend a few minutes acting cheerful. I honestly tried to be excited about the gifts I’d asked him not to get me, but every time I had to smile, it felt like I might start crying.
There are so many ways that she could have written this in order to show the reader that Bella is upset and wants to get away from her father rather than this. So many ways that I might just show you what I would do. Of course who am I to bash Stephanie Meyer apparently bad writing makes big bucks.
To compare lets check out Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finnwhich is written in the first person as is New Moon.
I didn’t answer up prompt. I tried to, but the words wouldn’t come. I tried for a second or two to brace up and out with it, but i warn’t man enought — hadn’t the spunk of a rabbit. i swee i was weakening; so i just gave up trying, and up and says:
Did you see the difference, how unlike the way Meyers just puts out how Bella is sad, Twain makes you work a little to realize that Huck is scared and nervous and trying to secure himself in the lie hes about to tell but Twain never just out and out says that he lets you picture it in your mind more.
So for the exercise:
You can try writing the paragraph above over into as many or as little paragraphs as you want. Or you could try the below situation with as little telling as possible.
A husband has just been fired but does not want to tell his wife but he comes home early. The wife has her lover upstairs but doesn’t want him to know about that either.
Try it and enjoy!
Will post my effort next Monday.
Also post your efforts and send a link so we can show the efforts of budding writers.
And remember buy from Amazon.com because Barnes and Nobel sucks.