Questionable:How do we know when it’s okay to Tell instead of Show?

Olga asked:
The old writers’ dilemma of ‘show’ vs. ‘tell’. All the writing teachers and textbooks instruct us: “show, not tell,” but many successful writers use ‘tell’ a lot. Georgette Heyer is one of them. There is a lot of ‘tell’ in her novels. I’m not even talking about Jane Austen and other old-timers.
Did this demand of ‘show not tell’ change with time. What was allowed 50 years ago isn’t recommended today? Or are there some universal guidelines? How do we know when ‘tell’ is okay? And how much of it?

First, you can do anything you want. It’s your book. Seriously, if it feels right to tell, tell. Continue reading

Happiness is Mouthy Penguins and Misplaced Levers

Tonight was cold and dreary so I turned to children’s cartoons to perk myself up, starting with Madagascar because I hadn’t seen it since it first came out (still very funny), and then on a whim, I went on to the Penguins of Madagascar movie, not in the least because it has Benedict Cumberbatch as a dashing wolf agent (German Shepherd?) and John Malkovich as an evil squid named Dave. Worked like a charm, plus I now have a new movie quote: “You’re hideously disfigured and will probably be hunted for sport.” Every time I look in the mirror and wince now, I’m going to say that. It’s too damn funny. And of course there’s also “You are the most meaningful and valued member of this team.” I’m going to say that in the mirror, too. Out of earshot of the dogs, of course.

There’s also The Emperor’s New Groove which is just plain marvelous and has one of my all time favorite quotes: “Why do we even HAVE that lever?” So useful in so many situations.

And then there’s . . .

Never mind. It’s the simple things in life that make me happy.

What made you happy this week?

Cherry Saturday, November 23, 2019

Today is Fibonacci Day, which celebrates the Fibonacci sequence (which I know about because some crochet patterns are based on that numerical sequence) ever since Lenny Fibonacci figured it out in 1202. (Okay, it’s Leonard of Pisa, but that seems so formal.) (Also, he wasn’t the first to figure it out, India had been there first and called them Virahanka numbers, and even before that people had been muttering about it as far back as 200 BC, but Fibonacci was the first one to notify Europe, aka the white guys, so much like Columbus discovering America which had already been pretty much discovered by numerous natives already there, the guy with the connections in Europe gets the credit.). (Where was I?)

Right, Fibonacci numbers. They form a sequence in which each number is the sum of the two previous ones. As:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 . . .

and so on.

Why is that important? Because it’s freaking everywhere in nature, one of the basic patterns of the universe, occurring way too often to be coincidence. There’s a plan here, people. It’s in the way a pine cone is arranged, in the way rabbits mate, in poetry, in computer algorithms, in tree branch patterns, and oh yeah, if you diagram it out, it forms the golden ratio:

I love stuff like this. Happy Fibonacci Day!

Competence as Valium

So I’ve been having a spot of depression here. I very rarely get depressed because, let’s face it, I’m not deep, and I’m easily distracted, but for the past couple of days, I have not been my cheery, obnoxious self. Even my therapist got exasperated with me. “You intellectualize everything,” she said. What did she expect me to do, talk about my emotions? Jeez. Then Krissie wrote me and said she was depressed, and I pointed out that our deal was that only one of us could down at a time, and then I wrote her what I thought was a cheering post except in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have quoted Tennyson and Coleridge. Not exactly cheery guys, those two. But it did make me think about emotions (blech) and what makes me not depressed (yarn! food! great t-shirts! dogs!) and then I read the Washington Post this morning and realized there was another thing that cheered me up.

Competence. Continue reading