Glaucon wrote:Have you ever read a play or a screenplay? I am sure you have. In a written play, there is nearly no description beyond the character's dialogue. No references to background, no description of feelings, inner monologue, inner perceptions, and all that. Even outward actions (expressions, body-language, objects) are typically left without description. Even so, a written play (I mean, just the text) can express plenty of depth, feeling of the characters involved and so forth. It just does it in a different way. Rather than narrating someone being angry or despondent or horny or desperate, it contains dialogue by those characters that convey those things. Often over time, as the story builds. You might argue that this is 'indirect', which would be true, but, for the reader, it can convey their emotional state far more poignantly than might have been the case if the emotions and such were narrated.
Actually screenplays and plays tend to come with outlines, sometimes very detailed ones (especially in TV writing) and while a very good screenplay or play script with very good dialogue (far beyond the ability of your average hobbyist writer/RPer) can convey emotion, these are pieces of writing that are meant to be coupled with directors' and actors' interpretations to create a more full picture that will meet the eventual audience who are supposed to pick up on that emotion and depth. Scripts don't often do that in isolation, and the directors and actors add the sort of flavour we add with narrative, in SL role play.
Indeed it's an apt analogy though, for if you eschew narrative entirely unless it is action, and you otherwise type only dialogue - yes. You are asking someone to look at your screen play without the directors, producers and actors, and you're telling them that they should be as moved, invested and immersed as if they were reading a novel.
Glaucon wrote:If you want to tell someone about something that happened to you. Something sad, something shocking, something funny, want them to empathize, it is typically better to just describe what happened, rather than directly telling them how you feel now, or tell them how you felt at the time. They call this 'show, not tell', sometimes. And it is a pretty important factor in modern fiction.
This... what? No it's not. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of one of the most fundamental "rules" of writing fiction. You "show" within the narrative, not within the dialogue. You "show" (character emotions) by writing physical mannerisms, tone, expressions. Not by writing about a past event in pure dialogue and hoping they correctly infer how you felt about it. And "tell" is different again - "tell" is where you explicitly state what an emotion is and why it's there.
"It was awful," she said. = Dialogue
"It was awful," she said, feeling sad and recalling how it reminded her of her father's death. = Tell
"It was awful," she said, and seemed to fill the whole room with her melancholic pause. = Show
Both "show" and "tell" are used in good fiction (with plain dialogue interspersed), and I would argue can be used in role play, but "show", in my humble opinion, is usually a lot more interesting in role play because a "show" narrative often acts in its own right as a hook-maker. In the above example the "show" method leaves you wondering what's made "she" sad. The "tell" method leaves nothing to the imagination, and the dialogue only method gives you nothing.
Glaucon wrote:Stephen King's Misery comes to mind (since I brought Stephen King up in another thread). And the differences in style exhibited in that book. The captive author writes romance novels that practice 'show' regarding the heroine's emotional state. Stephen King himself goes for 'tell' with the book's female antagonists. I think it is fair to say that she (the antagonist) comes across a lot more memorable. And not as 'superficial'.
You have "show" and "tell" mixed up here, too.
Glaucon wrote:And John Norman... well, I won't go claiming he is the world's greatest author, here. But I don't think his stuff is always that devoid of emotion. Not at all. And there are other writers that, stylistically, use a similar template that can still make me, manly Glaucon the Terrible, cry.
Norman uses an inordinate amount of "show". That, and the repetition, are what makes his fiction (almost objectively) poor. It's not the world, nor the story. It's the style of prose and how flat it is. It's not devoid of emotion, certainly - but it is devoid of an apt level of emotion, in many places.
Glaucon wrote:And I don't see how things would be any different when it comes to RP. In my experience, it isn't, really. The form doesn't matter that much, when it comes to whether or not RP has emotional depth. The players matter a lot more.
People that can write dialogue with enough skill to convey depth and emotion are very, very rare. Even among professional writers. In my experience, "tell" players tend to write superficial character, become involved in superficial plots (if any at all) and verge on godmoding or powergaming a lot of the time with the way they embellish other people's character's motivations from dialogue (even if the player has been very explicit about tone/actions/etc in narrative).
Glaucon wrote:Please note that this isn't a rant against para, per se. I know there are para-RP-ers that, in spite of the long form of RP they use, don't typically RP stuff that the other characters would not be able to observe, that don't do inner monologue, thought-emoting,references to background, emotional states and such. They still practice 'show' rather than 'tell'.
"Tell" is very widely regarded as a writing tool used by writers who are not skilled enough to "show". I don't necessarily buy that, in all cases. I think a little tell every now and then can be a great thing. But the things you talk about here; inner monologue, thought-emoting, references to background, emotional states and such... these are all, every single one, "tell". "Show" would be attempting to convey these things through action and dialogue,trying to conjure enough curiosity (hooks!) to have other characters dig a little deeper. Some will and some won't, and consequently, as should be the case, some will know a lot about your character and some will know a little, and what people do know will vary. That is "show" play.