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Show, Don't Tell by PhiTuS Show, Don't Tell by PhiTuS
The rule of Show, Don't Tell is much like the 180 Degree Rule: it's really important, but not many people follow it.

[link] <-- Here's the 180 Rule by the way.

Now I'm not saying to eliminate words completely, but just shave off any that you don't need, or simply make it so that it really does fit the situation.


Extra Info:

More about expositions - Overusing these is like trying to explain a joke to someone who didn't get it. If he didn't get it in the first place, it probably wasn't that good.

The Anime Strategy Syndrome - If you've watched anime, especially something like Yu Gi Oh or Naruto, then you've no doubt seen the characters think out loud with their entire game plan during a tense battle. They talk so much that the action is drowned under exposition. Things like "Ah! You thought I was gonna do this, weren't you? I thought ahead and did that instead. And now you are paralyzed!"

Idiot-Proofing - While you shouldn't assume your audience is a bunch of retards, you should also make everything obvious enough so that even an idiot can understand it. Subtlety is good, but not when no one can even notice it.

Using Compensating as an Excuse - So you can't draw that good. BOO FUCKING HOO. No one gives a shit. Try harder, so you don't have to "compensate" with writing
Add a Comment:
 
:iconasianfreak22:
AsianFreak22 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2011  Student Digital Artist
very informative
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:iconsykeliam:
SykeLiam Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2011
Being a writer I can testify to the usefulness of this rule, especially in conjunction with 'Brevity is the soul of wit' :D
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Coool
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:iconjustduy:
justduy Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2011  Professional General Artist
"STOP BEING SO FUCKING WEAK! Now go home and touch yourself."
Reply
:iconorlyman:
orlyman Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2011  Student General Artist
The Goofus and Gallant of the art world
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011  Professional Filmographer
They make such role models.
Reply
:iconthundermane:
Thundermane Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2011
You're really great at making very comprehensible tutorials Phi. I think you can make money out of this in some way. I hope it'll work out for ya.

Btw it's semiotics you talk about in the end. Something to add: People tend to prefer what is on the right of what they see. That's why good guys often come from the right, and bad guys from the left. If you do it the other way around, it probably means you like the bad guy more than the good guy, or try to make the bad guy actually look good in a way.
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Huh...weird.

I would think that (for English speakers at least) that you would look from left to right.
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:iconthundermane:
Thundermane Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2011
Ah yes that's true, but it's more the choice of: Do I pick the object on the right or on the left? In that case people often take the object on the right. Maybe also because it's convenient if you're a right-hander. Though I'm not sure it has something to do with that.
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Hm...reminds me of the superstitions people have about right-handedness. I wonder if that's related at all.
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:iconthundermane:
Thundermane Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011
Well I do know it has little to do with anything rational, it is rather what 'feels' right. Most of our choices aren't really rational even though we try to justify our choices by coming up with rational arguments.
Reply
:iconsinfulfreedom:
SinfulFreedom Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Pfffaahaha. Anime syndrome sounds a lot like sci-fi time travel syndrome. [link]

I used to be a writer and still sort-of am so the show don't tell thing isn't new to me. But what we call it is Detail vs Clarity. Both are bad when the scale is tipped in either direction. You need to find a good balance of the two. I'm glad you showed how it's applied as well.
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Hah, this also reminds me of The Incredibles when they had the "monologuing villain" gag.
Reply
:iconsinfulfreedom:
SinfulFreedom Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Haha yeah that's also the biggest offender.

You sly dog! You got me monologuing!
Reply
:iconkexoh:
Kexoh Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011
Oh man! This is both hilarious and helpful. Double WIN!
Anyway, thanks for these, they're a really good reminder as to what to do and what not to do. Can't wait to see some more :D
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Glad to help.
Reply
:icondrdubyu:
DrDubyu Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011   Digital Artist
what if something unexpected occurs, like Freiza telling us the world will explode in 5 minutes then 30 GODDAMN EPISODES LATER
Reply
:iconangry-buddha-88:
Angry-buddha-88 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011
CLEARLY HE MEANT SPACE MINUTES, HE IS FROM SPACE AFTER ALL.
Reply
:icondrdubyu:
DrDubyu Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011   Digital Artist
FUCKING SPACE MINUTES

ON EARTH, NOTHING WOULD GET DONE IF WE WENT BY SPACE MINUTES.
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011  Professional Filmographer
:iconffffplz:
Reply
:icondrdubyu:
DrDubyu Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011   Digital Artist
I vow that NONE of my animations will require a long winded explanation.

I was quite into Naruto till they started doing that. They're fucking ninjas, that's all the explanation you need.

Goddammit WHY DID YOU MAKE THIS THING, LOOK AT HOW FUCKING ANGRY I'M GETTING!
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011  Professional Filmographer
AS YOU SHOULD

THOSE STUPID ANIMES.
Reply
:icondrdubyu:
DrDubyu Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011   Digital Artist
:iconragefaceplz:
Reply
:icondojang:
Dojang Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
there are exceptions. when characters need to communicate to each other, mime isn't always the best option.

for example-
"jesus christ you just broke my arm"...you notice that the two images you've used for this convey something completely different? a little dialogue actually really works here in the context of someone having unexpectedly broken his arm- dismay, betrayal- and we EXPECT a character to say something in that context. silence is not ALWAYS the best option.
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Or, he instead of announcing his broken arm he could say "LOOK WHAT YOU DID, ASSHOLE! THE FUCK'S YOUR PROBLEM?"
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:icondojang:
Dojang Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
sure. same deal- different tone. there's a bewilderment to the first line, this one's more angry.
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
True, but I usually exaggerate my examples to show the worst and best case scenarios.

Also, in your example, while yes, silence is not the best option, he doesn't even need to say that either. He could be screaming loudly and you'd know how he feels.
Reply
:icondojang:
Dojang Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
this isn't about case scenarios, what you should be comparing is two techniques to the same conclusion. if the script called for him to be upset about a broken arm, only one of those examples fits.

but that would convey something different to the line of dialogue. there's no betrayal there anymore. plus, screaming demonstrates a different degree of pain.

additionally- text can do a lot of things that pictures can't. for example, you might have a really atmospheric drawing of a room...uh, like this one- [link] ...pretty good by itself...but what if we added a caption?
"The murmur of conversation almost drowned out the familiar tinkling of fine china." and suddenly we're in the room. you might be able to do this with two or three closeups, but if you do that for everything, you're dragging it out too much.

i think scott mccloud hit it pretty well in one of his books.
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Maybe, but there's face expressions too. There's a certain way you look at someone when you feel betrayed.

And now I'm gonna wait for your counter point against that.
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:icondojang:
Dojang Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
would you feel better if there wasn't one? i just think text and pictures are two halves of a whole, and whilst overlap isn't always the best option, they're both still equally important.
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Well sure I'd have words if needed, though I usually aim to keep those to a minimum.
Reply
:iconanatomical-automaton:
Anatomical-Automaton Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
I've seen these mistakes done so many times with my OCT opponents orz
I had a military cyborg character I entered and he had a lot of fancy gear and sensors and all my opponents felt it necessary to have him announce out loud which ones he was using. And he's supposed to be the equivalent of a green baret, subtle apparently is not something people consider @_@
either way great job on this :]
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Oh man...so basically people are making him say "FIRING RIGHT ARM CANNON. RELOADING RIGHT ARM CANNON. WALKING TO THE LEFT SO I CAN GO BEHIND YOU TO SHOOT MY RIGHT ARM CANNON."

Great...I bet that's what everyone's gonna do with my fighting sexbot character in AatR2.

Anyway, thanks.
Reply
:iconanatomical-automaton:
Anatomical-Automaton Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
yep that exactly what they did, "Oh no why can't I find them on my heart beat detectors D8l" ect.

All the better to show them that you don't have to announce what the characters are doing in order to win :P
Reply
:iconthornedvenom:
ThornedVenom Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I remember this rule, nicely illustrated. Interestingly enough, games have a variation of that rule: "Play, don't show." It's to counter the overly heavy use of cinematics in a game to drive the story and to instead insist on making the gameplay work to drive its pacing.
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:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Interesting indeed..
Reply
:icondarklightningshadow:
darklightningshadow Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
DBZ is probably the best example of Anime Strategy Syndrome.
It takes forever for ANYTHING to happen.
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Ugh. Yeah.
Reply
:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
I didn't know this rule exist, but it was always obvious. At least for me.
Reply
:iconjhohcable:
jhohcable Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
The Anime Strategy Syndrome - If you've watched animes like Yu Gi Oh or Naruto, then you've no doubt seen the characters think out loud with their entire game plan during a tense battle. They talk so much that the action is drowned under exposition. Things like "Ah! You thought I was gonna do this, weren't you? I thought ahead and did that instead. And now you are paralyzed!"

Sounds like any anime. 8)
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Well pretty much, but those were merely examples.
Reply
:iconjhohcable:
jhohcable Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Someone should send this page to Japan, it is good advice. :3
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
As soon as they finish cleaning up after the earthquake/tsunami crisis...
Reply
:iconjhohcable:
jhohcable Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
But I think they need this more. O___O
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
DO THEY?
Reply
:iconjhohcable:
jhohcable Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
The tsunami thing will go away but bad writing can last forever. *hand to chin*
Reply
:iconthe-muffin-queen:
the-muffin-queen Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
what's the 180 degree rule?
Reply
:iconphitus:
PhiTuS Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011  Professional Filmographer
This -> [link]

I guess I'll add the link to the description.
Reply
:iconthe-muffin-queen:
the-muffin-queen Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011
alright, thank you. i hadnt heard of that before. ^^
Reply
:iconbigralph:
BigRalph Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2011   Digital Artist
Never heard of this rule. Thanks for making it,now I can utilize it.
Reply
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