Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Try It Out Tuesday: Show Vs Tell

Yesterday, I posted about Showing versus Telling, or writing with Narrative Summary versus Scenes. See the post here. Today, we'll try a practical application of what we talked about yesterday. You are welcome to post your own attempts here in the comments or to link to them on your blog. You can also critique what I have posted and let me know if I have done a good job of putting our current topic into practice.

*Disclaimer: All writing prompts, summaries, and practices are my own creation. Some of the practices may become part of larger stories at a later time, but currently are nothing more than exercises.

Without further ado:


The smell of burning rubber followed him as his feet crunched through the red, cindery gravel on the side of the road. He looked up at each car that pass ed him, only to bow his head again as they whizzed indifferently by. I'll have to run a marathon to make it to work on time, at this rate.  He wiped his brow on the sleeve of his suit and plodded on.

The rumble of another engine crept up on him and he  looked up one last time. He caught the eye of the woman behind the wheel and pleaded silently for her to stop. She shook her head, loose brown curls bobbing around her head, but pulled over any way. The passenger window whispered as it receded into the door.

"Can I help you?" she asked. The words fell like popped bubbles.

The hope that had risen in him dissipated at her tone. "Thanks for stopping. My car broke down a few miles back." He scuffed the toe of his shoe in the dirt and stuck his hands in his pockets. "I'm going to be late for work and nobody was stopping."

She tapped her thumb against the steering wheel and stared at the dashboard clock. "I guess I could give you a ride to the next exit. You aren't a murderer or rapist, are you?" A smile crept into the corners of her mouth.

"Last time I checked, no. I really appreciate it." He waited for the slight click that indicated the door had been unlocked and slid into the empty seat.


There's obviously room for editing in this piece, but I think I did ok. I actually found myself having to pull back a little. It's easy to go too far with trying to show. A reminder to myself: not every sentence needs to be a detailed showfest.

So, friends, did any of you try it? How did you do? What have you learned about showing vs. telling from this exercise?


T. Anne said...

What a great exercise and a great piece! It left me wondering if maybe he was a bad guy after all! I'm going to try and incoorperate more showing less telling in my WIP tonight. Lord knows it will make editing all that much more easier.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Nicely done, Kayeleen! This is something I am constantly working on with my composition students. :)