Show, Don’t Tell

“Show, don’t tell” is advice for writers that I’ve read in several books about memoir writing. It has to do with creating a scene, not simply describing the scene, Letting the reader experience it.

I’m better at telling. At simply describing, not giving the reader the freedom to use her imagination.

For example. Telling: The floor sloped down each side. The hallway was dark and it was a fun place to play “Hide and Seek.” Showing: I ran through the slanted hallway. Pinpricks of light came through the closed windows. I could barely see my feet as I hid from my sister.

I’m much better at description of detail than painting a scene. I think this is the logical part of my brain, maybe the editor brain, not the creative part. I don’t have a lot of practice with showing, so it’s a struggle for me.

My previous, and only, creative writing class was 38 years ago – my first semester of my freshman year in college. I love to write, but have so much room for improvement!

I’d like to take a creative writing class at a local college, maybe in the fall. I need feedback on what I write, so that I can improve.

In the meantime, I’ll try to use my senses to reshape sentences into scenes. I want to paint pictures with my words, not simply draw a diagram. Asking questions like, “What do I see? What do I feel emotionally at this moment? What sensations are on my skin? What do I hear? What’s happening in the background?” These should help me as I try to paint the picture.

I’m challenged to improve. I’m excited to get better at this form of writing. It’s much more interesting, and that’s the kind of writer I want to be.

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