Show, don’t tell

As a journalist, I have a propensity for telling. But the gold standard advice in storytelling is “show, don’t tell.”

I found some notes taken while I was at Printer’s Row Lit Fest earlier this summer which read, “Not ‘my heart was so full I could burst’ or ‘I was so angry’; put description of my body, mind, jaw, hunger; avoid putting feeling on the page.”

Thus, I attempted to follow this advice throughout my manuscript, including this passage:

The revelations in Detective Oxton’s investigation file seemed to go on and on. By now, I had spent a couple of days sifting through the interview transcripts. I curled up in the cushiony upholstered chair in the living room with the big stack of papers on the floor beside me; my shoulders hunched over whatever I was reading, and more than once the leg I tucked under me fell asleep. Colin was almost always nearby, either agreeing with my muttered analyses or scoffing at my accusatory inquiries. Sometimes he would sneak outside for a smoke, to alleviate his stress. I was vaguely aware of his escalating depression, but I was in no position to want to do anything meaningful about it.

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One thought on “Show, don’t tell

  1. I think the passage is great, and I definitely want to keep reading. Great job! I am not a journalist, though perhaps I should be, because telling – not showing – is probably the biggest challenge I face in my writing. I’ve been using some writing prompts targeted at writing about the senses, and it’s a struggle, but I find I can do it if I work at it. The trick now is to keep working on it so it becomes more second nature and I can release the rather monotonous “telling” style that is so prolific in my work. Good luck with your manuscript and future writing!

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