Show and Tell

In the June issue of the Bobby Dazzler Newsletter, I mentioned how young school children are often asked to bring some object to school and talk to the class about it at “Show and Tell” time. Finding an exciting show-and-tell object makes them very happy. I suggested that we all need a supply of show-and-tell objects/stories which we can insert into our conversations from time to time.

Reader Gillian responded: “At writing courses in recent years the constant message has been show, don’t tell. Show me the scene/situation rather than tell me how you feel about it. Big on description, small on emotions.

“Perhaps a better way to talk about the show/tell thing is with a quote, because naturally feelings need to be there in the writing. It’s a matter of emphasis – more show, less tell.
Wei Tai wrote: ‘Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling, for as soon as the mind responds and connects with the thing, the feeling shows in the words.’ ”

In replying to Gillian, I included this picture, taken on a recent trip:

Gillian’s response: “When you and others saw the sunset, your/their feelings about it prompted someone to take the photo. If each of you had also described those feelings, who knows what words each would have chosen. Maybe for one person the sunset was ‘a newly lit fire in desert sand’, for another, ‘a benediction on the day’. Who is to say which is the more profound?

“However, if someone was to say it was a palette of crimson, tangerine, gold and smoky grey, that tells me about the thing but fails to engage my feelings about those colours in relation to the sunset. It leaves me hungry for more.”

Thank you, Gillian.


About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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