Tell, Don’t Show?: The Curious Method of Anthony Trollope

People generally advise writers to hint at things through the characters’ actions and words rather than reveal things forthrightly through the narrative.  This rule is referred to as “Show, Don’t Tell,” and many people have told me to follow it–slightly more times than people have told me to add more detail to particular scenes.  Yet, readers are all unique: the details desired by one another can live without.  Generally, the rule of “Show, Don’t Tell” ought to be followed; but, Terry Brooks in his work on writing, Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life, reminds us that there is only one rule which must never be broken: “Don’t Bore the Reader.”  One may understand it as the overarching rule from which the others derive.  Depending on the writer, one can conceivably deep-six one or several others as long as this one is adhered to.

trollope

But, I have always thought that there would be dire consequences to explaining away too much.  Then, I read, or rather listened to, an audiobook of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers.  He literally defenestrates this rule from the onset.  Not only does he defenestrate it, but he tells the reader that he despises the authorial technique of the writer holding back details and keeping the reader in suspense for what is often a banal ending.  Instead, he makes a pact with the reader with the result that, as much as possible, the reader will know everything he, the writer, knows!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Jinhao Fountain Pens: Amazing at the Price!

There has never been a better time to try your hand at fountain pens than now, my dear readers.  Many companies offer very affordable fountain pens, and I may have stumbled upon the best one: Jinhao.  This Chinese company produces a beautiful and functional fountain pen for just around ten dollars!

IMG_4195[1] IMG_4196[1]

One thinks that there must be trade-offs in producing a fountain pen for this price.  Indeed, the nibs only come in the medium size, the finish is of somewhat lower quality (though still gorgeous), and the pens are heftier than most.  Some might find the last part a problem, but my large hands make its size and heft preferable for me.  (One can also reduce the weight considerably by writing with the cap off.)  I also love the pen’s triangular rubber grip, which prevents slipping.  The ink flow is very smooth–perhaps slightly too generous, but only slightly.  The ink converter which comes with the pen runs very smoothly with no leakage.  Some might prefer a screw on cap to the Jinhao’s snap-on one, but that’s just a preference.

IMG_4197[1]

Among the reviews, I have not read one which complained about the pen breaking down quickly, so I hope to enjoy these two for several years.  I’ll tell you if they fail to meet my expectations in this regard.  For those of you curious in trying out these pens, Amazon.com offers many great deals.  However, Amazon does not offer as many good deals on certain brands of ink, which is why I might recommend you to buy these fountain pens from Goulet Pens–especially if you’re a fan of Noodler’s ink, as I am.  (Though, I must confess that I’m currently using Levenger’s ink in these pens at the moment.  Levenger used to be my favorite, and I have a stockpile of these inks to go through.)  Happy writing!

The Fear of Writing

Well, my dear readers, I find myself suffering from a case of scriptophobia.  Scriptophobia is defined as the fear of writing for the public.  The Wikipedia article says: “Scriptophobes tend to be very cautious in writing, while suffering symptoms including nausea, trembling, raised heart rate, and even losing consciousness.  Sufferers should be treated with the help of therapists.”  Be at ease: I only suffer from excessive caution and diffidence.  The thought of needing a therapist caused me to burst out laughing!  Though, I pity persons who fear criticism and become anxious over people knowing their inmost thoughts so much that they need a therapist to overcome this fear.

Hemingway is famous for a writer's block which lasted ten years and ended with what might be considered his masterpiece: The Old Man and the Sea.

Hemingway is famous for a writer’s block which lasted ten years and ended with what might be considered his masterpiece: The Old Man and the Sea.

In a sense, however, I am writing this very article as therapy.  My case might be compared to stage fright, which I know no way of overcoming save by stepping into the spotlight.  (Admittedly, this is a smaller theater than I have at Medieval Otaku, but a theater all the same.)  Curiously, this case stems from me having submitted a novel to a writing contest.  You might say that I have finished a performance, but have experienced neither the approbation nor opprobrium of the spectators.  I feel like Beethoven with his back toward the audience at the end of his Ninth Symphony.  May my story have as happy an ending!

Beethoven

I sympathize heartily with Beethoven.  All my learning and creativity was poured into that novel, which I am not sure will be loved or hated.  This uncertainty has paralyzed my motivation to write.  As I write this article, I feel like a bed-ridden patient needing to re-accustom his limbs to exercise–even though my present case has lasted only four days.  I fear whether what I write will contain anything of value.

I'm reading a book on Joseph Conrad's life.  He did not have a very happy beginning, but I hope that it gets better.

I’m reading a book on Joseph Conrad’s life. He did not have a very happy beginning, but I hope that it gets better.

Yet, I have in the past described my posts as much mediocrity with a few gems.  A coal mine may have a few diamonds hidden among its depths, but one will never uncover the diamonds without shoveling tons of coal.  And it must be remembered that coal, though neither as beautiful nor as prized as diamonds, has much usefulness.

And so, it is time for me to start mining again.  Look for my article on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight soon and expect more articles to come after it!