FAIRFIELD WRITER GROUP
HOMEWORK EXERCISE FOR EXERCISES GROUP MEETING 13TH NOVEMBER 2010
‘Show don’t tell’
Write a piece up to 1000 words in length using the principle of ‘show don’t tell’.
(example 1) ‘SHOW DON’T TELL’
In real life you don't walk outside in the morning and say "Cloud cover is thick. Temperature is 32 degrees. Humidity is 42 percent. Traffic is heavy. It's late September. The postman is irritable today."
What you DO do is walk outside and see with your eyes that it's gray and dim and you look up and see thick dark clouds; you feel the temperature, and either feel warm or shiver. If you breathe deeply and the air is thick, you might decide it's humid. You hear the roar of the traffic and think "Hmm. The highway is busy today." You see the postman coming up the drive and if his mouth is turned down and his eyes squint and he glares silently at you, you conclude he must be grumpy.
Good fiction writers create action scenes and experiences to convey information, so that the reader learns through experience rather than through being 'lectured'. Readers want to FEEL the message, rather than simply being told. Readers are smart. They like to draw their own conclusions, so the writer's job is to present evidence that allows them to make their own judgments, rather than to tell them how to think.
He was very tall.
Even though he ducked as he entered the doorway, he still cracked his head on the top.
OR As he walked into the room, suddenly the eight foot ceiling looked like someone had lowered it a foot.
It was Jim at the door. His face was twisted with anger. I was concerned and invited him in and the two of us started to talk.
"Jim... what's wrong? Please come in."
As he lowered himself onto my couch, I noticed his red-rimmed eyes, creased forehead, tight lips, and clenched fists.
"Tell me what's happened."
Joe was an impatient, driven man, who constantly whined about being frantically busy.
Joe walked jerkily into the office. He swooped onto the empty chair, drummed his fingers on the desktop, crossed and uncrossed his legs, glared at Sally, and snapped "I'm here. I don't have all day. Get to the point. I'm a busy man."
Sally was so angry that she attacked him.
Sally began to shake. The words tumbled out of her mouth, the vicious language shocking her. She didn't even recognise her own voice. Her hands formed claws as she struck out at him.