Show and Tell

26 Sep

Mister whines. He bounces up and down on his haunches. He is frustrated and I don’t know what he wants.

“Use your words,” I tell him, knowing full well that his vocabulary might not be big enough to do so.

Instead he grabs my index finger and stands up. He walks until my arm can’t reach any further and I have to stand up. When I’m on my feet, he pulls me to the back door.

“Do you want to go outside?” I ask.

“Yeah,” he says, and bounces again. We put on shoes and we’re out the door. Crisis avoided.

Writing how-to’s ooften advise writers to “show don’t tell.” While it worked for Mister, I wanted to get your take on it. What does “show don’t tell”mean to you?

1 Comment

Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Word Choice


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One response to “Show and Tell

  1. Mary

    September 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve been reading a lot lately and looking for examples of “show, don’t tell.” I’ve seen a lot of short phrases or interesting/creative punctuation. (The example I most recently read was an expletive followed by an exclamation mark. The book also had one of those “sentences” with a period after every word — the author was attempting to convey the character’s frustration.) In children’s books, I wonder if you can’t use blank spaces to convey pauses, confusion, anticipation. At the very end of The Monster at the End of this Book, Grover shows how he feels using font size and italics.


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