I’ll be leading the Writing Salon at the Hospital Club on Monday at 1930 in the Chalk Room. I hope to see some of you there for a look at the tricky world of show don’t tell. Here is the full blurb.
If any of you need a break from Euro 2016 or simply can’t bear to watch England’s final group game then please join me at 1930 in the Chalk Room.
On Monday we’ll be looking at the tricky business of exposition and the terrifying phrase show don’t tell. We’ve all heard it many times. It’s either a great piece of feedback or it’s something people use when they can’t think of anything better to say. A bit like, make it funnier. However, it can be a dagger to the heart of a writer. When you fall foul of overhanded exposition the words show don’t tell cut deep.
So on Monday rather than me tell you what I mean. I’m going to show you. I’ll play you a sequence from a film that contains no dialogue and yet it manages to convey a huge amount of information. If we had the time I’d play you the heist sequence from the 1955 French film Rififi. A gang of thieves rob a jewellery store in Paris and the robbery takes up 30 minutes of screen time. Not a single word of dialogue is uttered. Nor is there any music. Just heart stopping drama. Instead though I’ve chosen something a little more modern and about half the length. We’ll watch it twice and on the second viewing there will be commentary to help explain the exposition.
I’ll bring a series of examples from TV which help to cast light on good exposition and I will also explain how both filmmakers and TV writers disguise heavy sections of exposition. Our challenge then will be turn this into something tangible on the page. Can we write half a page of exposition which is all show and no tell?
We’ll find out on Monday. I hope to see you in the Chalk Room at 1930. And if you can then look up Rififi. It’s on Netflix and it is stunning. You’ll note that the Ocean’s Eleven franchise borrowed heavily from it.
Enjoy the weekend,