General · Short Story · Writing

Flash Friday: Quiet Contemplation

This is the first time I am doing Friday flash. Flash fiction is defined as 1000 words or less, but I am doing a 100 words only. I figure it will be easier.

As always, I found a picture to inspire me. Today’s photo prompt comes from wiki commons.

I contemplated the sight. Birdsong rang in my ears and the scent of green growing things filled my nose. I loved our new home.
So different from the war zone. I could relax without wondering if I would be alive or whole tomorrow.

I walked down to the water’s edge. My husband looked up from the rowboat and smiled. His smile sank into my soul, filled up the holes left by gunfire and blood.

“We got an hour left,” he said.

I climbed in.

He pushed off. The rocking and splash of the oars was soothing.

This was everything I needed.

General · Writing

Show vs Tell: Proper Balance

I was reading Beam Me Home by James Tiptree, Jr (pen name for Alice B. Sheldon) yesterday. It was in a science fiction collection. Not sure when it was published first, but probably during the golden age of science fiction.

It was a good story.  What struck is that Beam me Home had lots of telling as opposed to showing, especially in the beginning. The middle and ending were mostly showing. Okay, yeah, a certain amount of telling is necessary for exposition, and the bulk of exposition is always going to be in the beginning. But there is just so much of it! A lot more than most short stories today have, at least the short stories I have read.

Now I am wondering just what is the proper balance of show and tell. I thought I knew. But I am also pretty sure if this story goes through any of the online critique groups (i. e. critters) today, a good chunk of the beginning would come back with the words: “Show more!”, “Dramatize these scenes!”, “Show the exposition somehow!”

I don’t know. I mean, it did work. I zipped through the story (it was pretty short, zipping was easy!). Is it just that standards have changed so much since this was first published? It was a long time ago. But how could standards have change so much?

All I know is I can’t do exposition like that and have it work like she hers did. Her beginning is mostly exposition vie telling, the rest is mostly dramatic scenes. I hadn’t considered this particular balance of show vs tell before. Would it work today? That’s the question. Or have writing styles and expectations have changed too much?