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Monday, May 21, 2012

Show, Don't Tell

by Jenny Ramaley

Show, Don't Tell

How many times have you heard that piece of advice? Easy to say, harder to remember and apply.

My husband bought the first book of George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series a few weeks ago and before I knew it I was on book four, A Feast of Crows. Although the storyline involves numerous characters that are children, it isn't a children's book. But the following snippet is such fun that I'm slipping it into our blog.

The novel's Queen Cersei is amazingly beautiful – even if she's not quite as young as she used to be -- and totally self-centered.  She lacks nothing in the self-esteem department and can justify any cruelty she dishes out to people who displease her. Readers also know that Cersei, who always criticized her husband, the king, for heavy drinking, has become a big fan of the grape since his death.  Now the author slips in this gem:

"Dorcas helped the queen into her new gown. It had stripes of shiny green satin alternating with stripes of plush black velvet, and intricate black Myrish lace above the bodice. Myrish lace was costly, but it was necessary for a queen to look her best at all times, and her wretched washerwomen had shrunk several of her old gowns so they no longer fit. She would have whipped them for their carelessness, but Taena had urged her to be merciful. 'The smallfolk will love you more if you are kind,' she had said, so Cersei had ordered the value of the gowns deducted from the women's wages, a much more elegant solution."

I remember thinking 'wait a minute' – you can't wash velvet and satin gowns so there's no way the old dresses shrunk. That's when it hit me.

 What a clever way to 'show' us that Cersei has packed on a few pounds!

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