Show and Tell

Magician Interrupted – Careers Interrupted

Show:

It was Harro who had called him nerdy. It was entertaining to think of Harro living in the stupid Trinity pit with three of everything, leaving a mess and the two tidy saviors having to nag the young, thoughtless Spell Caster. Maybe he would test Harro tonight, and get out of the hellhole straight after that. He put in a telepathic call for Harro, who took his sweet time in answering.

“Yeah?”

“Harro, get down here. I’m going to test you tonight.”

There was a moment of silence.

“Harro?” Paris suspected Harro was playing a game. He had to point out the obvious. “The final test for you to take your place as Spell Caster.”

“Right, be there in a moment.”

Paris mentally signed off and began the preparations. Harro’s cavalier attitude usually annoyed him, tonight it fit his needs. It took little time to test him and as he headed out Harro said, “Get some electronic and dicronic stuff.”

“Why?”

Harro shoved some chips in his mouth. “Because you can’t use magic outside. Find stuff that is similar to what you can do.”

“Thanks. Ah, any suggestions as to where to go to pick up chicks? As in career choice.” Paris expected him to scoff but Harro nodded.

“Space marines.”

Smart, and Martin had said the same thing. “Thanks, mate. I owe you one.”

“Na. This is payment enough.” Harro waved him away and winked at him. “Have some fun, Paris. And thanks.”

You may show to engage, be in the moment, build the scene as it has purpose later, or because it contributes to character development. If I really wanted to draw it out I could have expanded:

Harro shoved some chips in his mouth. As he talked bits of chip flew out and on to his lap or dropped to his chest. “Because you can’t use magic outside. Find stuff that is similar to what you can do.” Paris tried to ignore Harro brushing the chip bits onto the couch. It wasn’t his problem anymore.

As a writer you make the choices.

Tell:

It was Harro who had called him nerdy. It was entertaining to think of Harro living in the stupid Trinity pit with three of everything, leaving a mess and the two tidy saviors having to nag the young, thoughtless Spell Caster. Maybe he would test Harro tonight, and get out of the hellhole straight after that. He put in a telepathic call for Harro, who took his sweet time in answering. After they talked, with Harro agreeing to being tested, Paris made his plans to join the Space Marines. Harro had confirmed what Martin had said about the marines being chick magnets.

You may use tell to shorten the scene because it’s not that important, or you may need to move the story along, or maybe it sounds better succinct.

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