Show, don’t tell.
It’s a common phrase among editors and high school English teachers love to write it in red pen on a student’s paper.
In writing it means instead of telling the reader a story, let them feel the story, invite them in to sit with the characters through dialogue or setting.
The first book I wrote received a review that simply said, “Too much telling, not enough showing.” Great feedback. I ask myself all the time if I’m showing or telling.
I think things would get really interesting if “Show, Don’t tell,” became a life edit.
We are a very show, talk, brag, flash society. We are all about the ecru pieces of paper on the walls and the initials after our names on our business cards. Those things validate us, allow us to walk around feeling we’ve somehow achieved more than the average bear.
What if I went to Harvard, but I couldn’t tell anyone?
If I had to just soak up all the knowledge those ivies imparted and “show” people to the point that they said, “Oh wow, she must have gone to Harvard.” No one would ever know, I couldn’t rest on something I’d done in the past. I’d have to live the education or the training. I wouldn’t be able to do a half-assed job, but because I went to Harvard, people forgave me, or worse, altered the standard.
Sports seems to be a “show, don’t tell” atmosphere. I realize there are celebrated Hall of Fame people, but most players are only as good as their last game. If a player doesn’t perform, back up their reputation, they’re out.
Same thing with nail technicians. It really doesn’t matter what kind of license you have, if I have nail polish on my skin, I’m not coming back.
All jobs should be this way, maybe even life. If I’m a mom, I need to act like one. I can’t just tell people or join mommy groups. I need to tuck in, listen, answer the calls, clean up vomit and give good kisses. If I’m a brother, people should know from my actions, the way I treat the other people in my family, the things I “do” would “show” people who and what I’m about.
Think how quiet and peaceful cocktail parties or corporate board rooms would be if we couldn’t “tell” people how fabulous we were or where we went on our last whirlwind vacation. We would have to “show” them. Make them a great meal, give them a gift we brought back, or take them with.
No telling, no jabbering, just doing.
I like the idea of living life this way. Showing people what I know, what I can do, rather than bragging about who said what about me or which club let me in. Seems genuine, real.
I’m going to work on being a shower. Not a shower like where you wash yourself, or a place you bring gifts and coo over an expectant mother, a show-er.
That’s not even a word, show-er, meaning someone that shows. Not in the dictionary.
Huh, I never knew that and I went to college.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Covers Off.