One of the most frequently given reminders to the new-to-the-craft of fiction is “Show Don’t Tell.”
After hearing that over and over, and often without any substantial guidance on how to improve, the fledgling writer can glaze over hearing that phrase. I did for quite awhile, anyway.
It was surprising and refreshing to see the following in the “signature” yesterday in an email from one of our real-life customers, a Safety Engineer:
Tell them-They will forget
Show them-They will remember
Involve them-They will be committed
I was intrigued, and of course, googled it. References from Chinese Proverbs, to Maya Angelou, and MHSA (Mine Health and Safety Act) led the results.
I gained an added level of appreciation for the “Show don’t tell” rule. I hadn’t “connected the dots.”
From my own experience in training employees in computer programs, it dawned on me: writing rules come from practical, commonsense, “universal truths” we already know. Another mandate for writing well – to “Tell the truth” in your writing, just became a little more digestible as well. Art mimics nature. What we write, even though it’s a made up story, should resonate with the real world, stay true to human nature, and be something that our reader can become a part of, because it is believable.
I’m adding this to my “Lessons learned” list!
15. Show don’t Tell and other writing rules come from the “real world.” Realistic, relatable fiction writers know that. These “rules” help to build a more human world for the reader. Instead of fighting them or feeling being bound by them, respect and understand them. They are there for a reason.
To see all the lessons to date, click here: Go to Lessons I’m Learning….