Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Showing Vs. Telling

As writers, we're told to show a scene, an emotion, a pivotal event instead of tell the reader about it. Telling removes the reader from the experience and makes it less powerful.


I remember an episode of Frasier when he came home from karaoke with some people from work and was telling his father about it. I was ROFL, no joke, at his delivery at some of the impossible events he described. At the very end of the episode, during the credits, some of the karaoke scene was shown, and I didn't find it as funny as his description.

Why am I talking about Frasier on the Supernatural blog? Because I've been a bit disappointed with some of the "showing" on Supernatural, most recently Sam's visit in hell. I understand SPN doesn't have a big budget for special effects, and I understand they wanted to show Sam scratching at that wall in his head. But I trust its excellent writers to help ME form a picture in my head. They've been doing so all year, talking about the cage and Sam being flayed alive and wow, that was scary. So showing him screaming against a bad 80s video took some of the power of that from me.

Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to have seen Castiel leading his army into hell to rescue Dean, or the battle of the psychic kids, if it was able to be done right. Those would absolutely be awesome scenes with the right budget. But until SPN gets a better budget, I'd rather the writers tell me than take the power away by showing.

What do you think? Am I just cranky?


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I don't think you're just cranky, and I do think you've made your point perfectly. I don't think I completely agree, though. :) (Are you surprised? LOL) I think if they didn't show any hint of Sam scratching at the wall, the fans would be in an uproar. And I had a powerful reaction to seeing Sam's flesh melting off his face! Maybe if I watch it again, I'll notice the effects aren't that great, but I thought they did their job.

However, I *do* think the flashes they showed with Dean, with the screams and the eyes, was even more effective, and the way Sam dropped into a seizure had an even bigger impact than the flames.

Kat said...

Hiya! Long time lurker, first time commenter. I *completely* agree in this instance--that flash of Sam against CG flames was *so* cheesy, it completely ruined the impact of the moment for me. But then, I've been involved in CG for a while, so I tend to notice effects and their quality (or lack thereof), so it may not be something that would bug the average viewer.

On the other hand, I'm glad the show is diving right into the whole Great Wall of Sam problem, instead of fiddling around forever. :D

Julia Smith said...

I personally get the heebie jeebies at people in flames, so the brief glimpse of Sam engulfed made me physically shudder.

But so far Dean's Hell was more disturbing.