August 11th, 2008
Today’s PROMPTuesday is lifted from Naomi Epel’s The Observation Deck, and is sponsored by the dog days of summer, the lethargy unleashed after consuming three urns of buttered popcorn, and menstruation-induced anemia.
So, from the Observation Deck:
Show, don’t tell! — a cardinal rule of writing — is another way of saying “be specific.” Don’t tell us the man got angry; show him punching a wall through the motel wall or biting through his lower lip. Don’t tell us the war was brutal, do as Richard Price suggests: show us the burnt socks of children lying by the side of the road.
So, for this exercise, get specific with your writing. As written in the Observation Deck, “Never just say ‘red dress,” say ‘ultra revealing micro mini with fringe.” Today, write a paragraph or a poem about anything, perhaps your first car, and describe it to the smallest detail. Or, start a sentence to flesh out an adjective, like, “He was so lazy that….”
My brother shared this “show don’t tell” rule with me after a life-changing poetry class he took in college. Here’s one of his poems for you to see the rule as he interpreted it:
Fingers, Or Tahoe
car lit face, bumps like round bricks
move us backwards, will i see a lake
as clear her breath in cold air, fingers
that warm themselves by touching?
set in chilled pie tins shivering like
showers by the window, the snow will
crunch when we step with boots worn soft
from car heat, little stars stapled to the
we would lick time with our
fingers, stuff jackets with the thickness of
Inside hear drips of conversation
from upstairs, peeling water from the walls.
knees deep in my brain. Walks she couldn’t take.
and all this so I could know today is nothing but
yesterday brought back by the smell of
weed and pennies in my bed.
Now off to your respective PROMPTuesday corners! Please note that there are no rules for this prompt. Today, I’m easy like a Godless Jessica Simpson.
Interested in reading past PROMPTuesdays? Catch up here.