Monday, May 12, 2014

A Good Example of Showing

Although this blog primarily relates to books, communication is the primary subject matter. And even though books have long been the primary medium for storytelling, a few years ago the technology of the motion picture came into the world and offered another method of engaging the audience.

While books and film are obviously two distinct mediums, the basic manner of telling a story remains the same in both. Since we recently discussed the old "show vs tell" topic, I thought we might take it one step further and examine a short clip that demonstrates how the process of telling a story is the same regardless of the medium, and how showing is usually so much more interesting than telling.

This scene begins like a good book should start: We have an opening visual of two characters. The characters TELL us that it's raining and that we're in California. Their dialogue takes us right into the story and we know what's going on: These two are in love. And from his DIALOGUE, the character played by Gene Kelly lets us know that he's about as happy as a feller ever gets.

From that point on, his ACTIONS illustrate how he feels. The lyrics of the song help explain his emotional state, but through it all, he is SHOWING us what's going on in his head and his heart.

Take a look. Keep this clip in mind the next time you sit down at your computer to write a scene. Show the reader what's going on through the character's actions and words. It will make for a much stronger scene.


  1. Thanks to you, guess what song is stuck in my head? At least it spurs my writing on! Cheers, buddy! Thanks for the intell.

  2. Thanks for the fun, Cornell. One other idea I came away with from this is the fact that he makes it look so real. How fun could it be to dance in sopping wet shoes? Yet he convinces everyone that he's having the time of his life.

  3. Sharon and Cordelia - Thanks for the comments. One interesting thing about this scene is that Gene had a terrible cold, almost pneumonia, when he filmed this. But, the show must go on.

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