Home « Forum « Author Hangout

Forum: Author Hangout

Tell what you've shown

Switch Blayde

I just started a story where the author gave a lot of background. Like this:

Maria and Louis came from a small, poor town deep in Mexico. Their mother, once upon a time, had been a schoolteacher and her dream was to one-day see her children go to America, so they could have an opportunity she never had. She forced them to learn English from the age of six and made them speak it at home when no one else was around.


But a little later, I read this:

"How come you speak such good English?" Beckman asked the young Mexican girl.

"My mother taught me and my brother from the age of six. She wanted us to be prepared for when we came to America," the young girl answered.


Why did the author have to tell that info earlier? This would have worked just fine.

oyster50

The first paragraph gives the reader a sense of the effort that the mother put into the futures of her children. it's evidence of determination and struggle on her part and acceptance on the part of the children.

In the second paragraph, the young girl's answer gives little evidence of that effort. She gives out what the questioner asks, but the reader knows that the sense of purpose and determination exist behind the easy statement.

Ross at Play

I'm not overly fussed by some redundant information, but that might depend on how close "a bit later" was.
I'd be more concerned about the ideas being expressed a second time in a way that is too similar.
Both times the mother's intention was to prepare the children for when they went to America. One of those could have been stated as the mother knowing that speaking English well would be a valuable skill for her children in the future.
The worst thing I see in the sections you quoted is the wording of the phrase "from the age of six" is identical both times. One of those was by the narrator and the other from a character. I think that is awful. :(

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The worst thing I see in the sections you quoted is the wording of the phrase "from the age of six" is identical both times. One of those was by the narrator and the other from a character. I think that is awful. :(

The problem isn't revealing the same information twice in a story, it's cutting and pasting the details from the first instance into every other instance. A child is unlikely to use the exact same words the parent does, or even to remember the precise age she learned it.

Back to Top