PROMPTuesday #143: Which is Really #17


I sit here with a high-fevered little girl and to-do list stuffed to the gills…so I am re-running a PROMPTuesday from many moons ago.

I hope you find it enjoyous.


Today’s PROMPTuesday is lifted from Naomi Epel’s The Observation Deck, and is:


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


my laugh.

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.


–Mark A.


Now off to your respective PROMPTuesday corners!


Interested in reading past PROMPTuesdays? Catch up here.


Leave a Reply