Questions about writing.

I have a few questions about describing in a story.
With the show not tell technique how much should you tell your readers and what is the best way to show your readers?
How much should you describe the characters appearance? How much should you describe in the first paragraph or chapter?

There are no straight answers to your questions, sadly. These are things that every writer has to decide for themselves, and sometimes one thing may work, and other times something else may. But I can give you some tips.

The “showing, not telling” thing is best used when there are emotions involved, but telling has its place such as when something technical may need to be explained.

An example of telling which doesn’t work well:

(no spoiler, it’s a made up situation)

Celes felt shocked when she saw Locke’s dead body. Then she got angry and ran to his side to try to heal him.

Not very involving, is it? Nope. Try this instead:

Celes froze in mid-step at the sight that greeted her. Locke lay unmoving on the floor, crimson spreading across the carpet beneath him. With a gasp half of horror and half of rage Celes dashed across the room and fell to her knees beside the man, turning him over to inspect the wound.

“Don’t you die on me!” she snarled, forcing her mind into focus for a healing spell.

Generally, showing means giving your reader time to think for themselves while still fleshing out the story more. If Celes - hardened warrior - freezes in mid-step we all realize even before we know the whole situation that something has shocked her, and that oughta be bad. You don’t even have to say that she was shocked or even surprised, you can let us know that in other ways as this example shows. Of course, that doesn’t only go for bad emotions :wink: A blush is for example the oldest trick in the box.

As for descriptions, it’s generally a very bad idea to give a character’s entire description at once. The reason is simple - it takes too long and is plain boring. The reader will lose focus and not be able to remember what you wanted them to. Keep it simple. If the character has some notable feature it should be noted; such as Magus having blue hair. Otherwise, keep it to a minimum for first impressions. Instead, try to sneak in descriptions as you go along, like the sound of the hem of a dress being dragged over the floor as the woman wearing it walks, or how somebody has to pull up the long sleeves of his shirt, or pull his hair back.

But the main rule about writing is that there really are no right or wrong. You’re the author, you set the rules - but to be a good author, you do have to know what you’re doing in order to keep your readers interested. In fanfiction that means fortheloveofgodplease no script fics or Mary Sues (unless you’re REALLY trying to make something with it). Writing takes time to learn and I’m not balking to admit I sucked when I started, myself. But you have to start somewhere and asking questions like this sounds promising.

If you want some good books about writing, there’s “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg and (I don’t like this personally, but it works for some) “On Writing” by Steven King.

Good luck :kissy:

If you are writing a novel, describe as much as possible, without slowing down the story too much. If you have poor grammar, get an editor.

Thank you, for the information.