Show. Don’t Tell.

6106689155_c959fc6af6_mGood writers don’t tell how their characters feel, they show how they feel.

This was a lesson in writing that I learned many years ago.  I remember it well.  I am trying to remember this rule as I write portions of our novel.

On the plane back to Connecticut from South Carolina, I was reminded of the rule by a young man sitting next to me.  Tyler from St. Louis was a marine returning from a short vacation to his base in California.  He had explained to me that he was in the infantry and had been to Afghanistan.  He was in a unit that flew helicopter missions.

Let me paraphrase our dialogue, using the rule.

Me:      “Oh, Tyler, that must have been so frightening.”

T:         “Yes, ma’am.  The first time I got on the heli was the worst.  There is no door and no one wears a    seatbelt because everyone has backpacks on.”

Me:      “Did you fly at night?”

T:         “Yes, ma’am.  You get in and you look out the door and can’t tell how far above land you are.  It    is completely dark.”

Me:      “How did you deal with your terror, that first time?”

T:         “I just grabbed on to the guy next to me and told him if I was going to fall out, he was going with     me.”

Me:      “Oh honey.  You must never tell your mother this.  Or at least tell her you always managed to get     into the helicopter first.”

T:         “I can’t ma’am.  My job is always to be the last one in.”

God bless you, Tyler.  I will always remember you, and the rule.

Jean

One thought on “Show. Don’t Tell.

  1. If I were with him, and he started to fall out…I hope I’d have the strength to go with him……

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