For many people, theory is strange and menacing. So here’s an illuminating example, or so I hope, for what I’ve been trying to get at in Tell, Don’t Tell.
It’s from Stephen King’s It1, and it shows that King is such a great writer (except when he’s not sometimes). Check out how the first scare is set up in the first part’s first chapter. It starts with a sweeping summarization about what the following decades have in store, and then gets right into real-time action:
And when the first scare is over and the story’s premise established, the boat is picked up again (that’s another technique I’d like to drop a few thoughts about in a later entry), and the pacing is skillfully reversed, from real-time action to summarizing to fading out:
As an exercise, it’s a good idea to pick up a well-written text, skim one or two chapters, and try to get a feel for how pacing is applied to create suspense, to establish the premise, and to engross the reader.
If you have something valuable to add or some interesting point to discuss, I’ll be looking forward to meeting you on Mastodon!