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When showing makes for an easy read-aloud

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I've been reading a lot of Enid Blyton to my six-year-old lately and was amazed to see how much telling she does. Characters are angry, dismayed, annoyed, happy, sad, glad, miserable on almost every page! There is a tiny bit of showing but whenever there's a strong reaction it's always spelled out clearly for the reader.

It got me to thinking - maybe this kind of telling is actually a bit of a relief for a young reader/listener like my six-year-old? It must make it a lot easier to follow the emotional roller coasters of the characters. I think it might also make it easier to read out loud, too. I know exactly what kind of voice to do dialogue in because Blyton tells me.

She was famous for writing thousands of words a day and is often criticised for her lack of literary skills. Her characters are fun (Moon Face, the Saucepan Man, Dame Washalot, for example) but they're not multi-layered. Her plots are also fun but hardly twisty turny. Yet her books are hugely popular even now. And part of me wonders whether it's because she gets the perfect mix of entertainment without too much hard work.

Any of you read Enid Blyton?
#1 - October 04, 2013, 08:47 PM

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Growing up, I read her all the time. (In translation to Hebrew.)
I found the same you have noted here about the greatest of them all, Hans Christian Andersen. Mostly tell, not show. Lots of adverbs and so on.
Styles have changed and we can't beat that horse to make it get up. This may be why professionals advise to read what is published now if you are market-minded.
(Or- if you have in you a true innovator, ignore what was and even what is and just do your thing. But expect to be misunderstood... :wine )
#2 - October 05, 2013, 09:28 AM

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I grew up on Enid Blyton books and loved them, from the Brer Rabbit books to the school stories and mysteries. I never minded that she tells and when I was recently reading one of her school stories, I realized what a fast read they are ... well paced. She clearly knows when to show and when to tell.

#3 - October 05, 2013, 05:19 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces


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