Remember when you were in kindergarten and every week you would have show and tell time? I don't remember much of my own experiences with it but I do remember my children participating in this activity while in school. In fact, my favorite memory of this was when my oldest son took his baby sister to show and tell in kindergarten. His classmates loved her! Sadly, I've heard that many teachers or administrators no longer see this activity as worthwhile and have stopped the practice. Personally, I think S/T is great because it gives young children an opportunity to stand, or sit, in front of a small audience and speak. It's a confidence-builder. How many adults are afraid to stand in front of a crowd and give a speech? Maybe we need to bring back show and tell and keep it through high school. Hmmm I'll think on that.
So what does all this have to do with writing? Think of the two elements involved: Showing and Telling. Show and Tell is an oral presentation. The telling comes from the voice and the showing comes mainly from physically presenting something to the crowd. In writing, it's a whole different ballgame.
Recently I was working on Sacking Austin. I asked my son to look over it for me as he is a college English major and one day may work in publishing. He's an excellent writer himself and I trust his opinion. When he finished reading, he wasted no time in saying that I was telling way more than showing. But, I thought, isn't that what I am? A storyteller or sorts?
Plus, I liked my chapter the way it was. I thought it was fine, but I decided to humor him and work more on that showing-business. So after going back through my chapter and consulting several of articles/blogs online I came up with what I thought was a much better chapter. It felt tight. It felt cohesive and flowed better than the first one. Wow, so the kid was right.
So did I tell at all? Was it all showing? Not really. I think the trick is to know when to tell and when to show and blend the two in what will look effortless to readers. Easier said than done, but I shall keep on trying.
Love and peace,
Lori Beth :)
Lori Beth Johnson