Show, Don’t Tell!

That’s right, my first assignment for Writing 100 is Show, Don’t Tell! This is a very popular literary adage, but this is the first time I’m hearing about it and I’ve got to say, I’m having a hard time writing. It seems like most artists have this extremely critical view of their own artwork, whether it’s writing, drawing, painting etc and I’m no different. When I sit in a room full of 130 other young talented writers I wonder how I could ever possibly compete. I strive for perfection, and get incredibly depressed if I fall short, easily slipping back into an air of worthlessness and hopelessness. Now, obviously this isn’t a competition to see who is the best at showing vs telling, but I am being graded on everything I do which sets a standard that I have to achieve. For this class specifically it’s 77% or in essence a B+. If you do not receive that minimum grade you cannot continue with writing in the second year, which completely defeats the purpose of me leaving house, home and life to pursue this dream. No pressure.

So what do I do? I don’t know, I THINK I have something written that is good, that evokes images in the readers mind but my professor keeps emphasizing CONCRETE, SIGNIFICANT DETAIL, and I don’t know if that’s what I’m doing. Am I using too much flowery language? Am I adding enough detail to show the reader the image I intend. Am I evoking the senses? When I say “apple blossom tickles my nose” do you smell the apple blossom? Am I trying to hard by describing an event vs a lone object or single action? The mark I get for this project doesn’t even matter, because as long as you hand it in you are guaranteed 100% on the assignment, and the grade you receive simply shows where your writing stands in the line of expectations. So maybe I’m thinking about this too much? Maybe I should just hand in whatever I have and then at least I know… but I can’t do that. My need for perfection outweighs the logic of the situation.

I’ll leave you with what I’ve come up with so far. Feel free to leave comments to let me know if I have the right idea at least.

This city has been saturated in a muted grey overtone for as long as I can remember. Painful memories that refuse to be forgotten hang like a black cloud over my head. Another day in this dark expanse of metal and concrete would surely find me at my end. I walk to school in the dull morning light, the delicate spring breeze cool on my warm skin. I stop at the bottom of that long, uphill climb, my attention drawn to a silvery sound. Shoulder length brown hair dances as bright pink cherry blossoms float around her like tiny spring raindrops. She looks at me; my breath catches in my throat. For the briefest moment a tiny star illuminates this city that is so ravaged with decay, flooding my meaningless existence with tender affections. I’m filled with a brilliant hope and something deep within my chest begins to stir. The sweet smell of honeysuckle tickles my nose as I approach and we continue up the hill together.


Categories: Life or Something Like it | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Show, Don’t Tell!

  1. You state; ” my professor keeps emphasizing CONCRETE, SIGNIFICANT DETAIL, and I don’t know if that’s what I’m doing.” There is only one way to find out if that is what you are doing, turn in what you have written and see what his response is. It sounds great to me, but what do I know.
    “Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
    Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.”

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