Whacking and Waxing
©Chérie B. Stihler 2003

"Show, don't tell."
"Show, don't tell."
"Show, don't tell."
"Show, don't tell."

Sometimes I hear that phrase SO often I want to SCREAM!

After I heard it for what seemed like the THOUSANDTH time
I checked in with my former college professor a respected grammarian,
and
noted authority on E. B. White (Elements of Style, Stuart Little -- same guy)
He shared:
"Telling" words are usually forms of "to be" verbs.
In the statement, "She was sleepy", the word "was" tells the state
she is in. What could you write besides "was sleepy"?

"Her head drooped on her chest. She began to snore."
By this action, we know she is sleepy without being told.
The use of an action word is what editors or critique folks
mean when they say "Show, don't tell."

Now search your manuscript and circle the words:

was, were, is, has, had

is there ANOTHER way to communicate the same idea with ACTION?

If so - Whack it away, POLISH it up and then SEND IT OUT!!

 

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