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The First Rule of Writing

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Presentation on theme: "The First Rule of Writing"— Presentation transcript:

1 The First Rule of Writing
Show, Don't Tell The First Rule of Writing

2 What is Show, Don’t Tell? The Show, Don’t Tell method of writing is when the writer is able to create a picture in the reader's mind, to get away from the repetition of such empty words like went, big, or said.

3 Brain Pop Show, Don’t Tell

4 Read the next two slides. How do they compare?

5 Which is better? This . . . When I left my office that beautiful spring day, I had no idea what was in store for me. To begin with, everything was too perfect for anything unusual to happen. It was one of those days when a man feels good, feels like speaking to his neighbor, is glad to live in a country like ours, and proud of his government. You know what I mean, one of those rare days when everything is right and nothing is wrong.

6 Or This? I left work feeling happy. It was a good day.

7 What differences did you see in the two versions?
The first version: was much longer had describing words such as beautiful spring day created a mood built up a feeling that something was about to happen Now compare the next two slides.

8 Which is better? This . . . Still holding my dogs by their collars, I looked back. I couldn’t understand what I saw. Rubin was laying where he had fallen. His back was toward me, and his body was bent in a “U” shape. Rainie was standing on the other side of him, staring down. I hollered and asked Rainie, “What’s the matter?” He didn’t answer. He just stood as though in a trance, staring down at Rubin. I hollered again. He still didn’t answer. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t turn my dogs loose. They would go for the hound again. Again I hollered at Rainie, asking him to come and help me. He neither moved nor answered. I had to do something. Looking around, my glance fell on the old barbed-wire fence. I led my dogs to it. Holding onto their collars with one hand, I worked a rusty barbed wire backwards and forwards against a staple until it broke. Running the end of it under their collars, I tied them up. They make two or three lunges toward the hound, but the wire held. I walked over and stopped at Rainie’s side. I again asked, “What’s the matter?” He said not a word. I could see that Rainie was paralyzed with fright. His mouth and eyes were opened wide, and his face was as white as chalk. I laid my hand on his shoulder. At the touch of my hand, he jumped and screamed. Still screaming, he turned and started running. I watched him until he disappeared in the darkness.

9 Or This? Rainie was acting strange. I asked him what was wrong, but he didn’t answer me. I had to tie up my dogs, so I could go over to find out what was the matter with him. When I finally walked over to where Rainie was standing, he ran away.

10 How do the two versions compare?
Did you notice how the author built up a suspenseful situation by making the reader wait and wait while Billy tied his dogs? Go back two slides. Highlight the words that describe how Rainie was acting or feeling. Find the simile. How do the words you highlighted add to the telling of the story?

11 Check out one more example of how Show, Don’t Tell helps make a story more interesting.

12 Which is better? This . . . As graceful as any queen, with her head high in the air, and her long red tail arched in a perfect rainbow, my little dog walked down the table. With her warm gray eyes staring straight at me, on she came. Walking up to me, she laid her head on my shoulder. As I put my arms around her, the crowd exploded.

13 Or This? Little Ann walked across the table towards Billy. She did a good job, and the men cheered.

14 In the first version could you picture Little Ann as she competed in the beauty contest?
Go back and highlight words that described Little Ann. Find the metaphor. Little Ann’s tail was compared to what?

15 Which is better? I missed the bus.
I raced down the road, wildly waving my hands, and yelling, “Stop, stop,” but the bus traveled on down the road without stopping.

16 Which is better? The broken windows and creaking hinges made me tremble as I slowly crossed the shadowed yard towards the dilapidated house. I was scared as I walked towards the haunted house.

17 Which is better? My teeth chattered as I blew warm breath on my numb fingers. I am cold.

18 Which is better? My friend is a very good artist.
My pleasure grew as I slowly examined one masterpiece after another. Why, George, you’re work could be shown at the Gallery of Fine Arts!

19 Which is better? My coat is too small.
As I tried to twist my arms out of my jacket I thought I was going to pull my shoulders out of their sockets.

20 Which is better? Papers overflowed my cramped desk as I rummaged for the pencil I knew was buried somewhere inside its dark depths. My desk is a mess.

21 Complete the following worksheet: “Elaborate by Showing, Not Telling”

22 United Streaming Mood and Sensory Images [06:20]

23 Now let’s practice by writing our own paragraph
Now let’s practice by writing our own paragraph. First name some things a person might do when angry.

24 Compare your list to the one on the next slide.

25 pace back and forth face goes red fists clench open and shut voice gets louder eyes narrow forehead creases loud sighs wringing hands cracking of knuckles veins popping out in forehead evil eye rolled up sleeves of shirt with quick jerky movements

26 Write a paragraph describing your anger as you tell a police officer that a robber just stole your wallet with all your money inside. Use as many of the phrases from the previous slide as possible.

27 Read my version of the wallet story
Read my version of the wallet story. Highlight the words that show, don’t tell.

28 Highlight the words or phrases that show, don’t tell.
Pacing back and forth and wringing my hands I drew in a shaky voice. I could feel my face steaming and knew I must be the color of an apple. My voice grew louder, and I knew my veins were popping out on my forehead as I told the officer that I couldn’t even pay for a ride home without my wallet.

29 You will be given an Oreo cookie.
Breathe in; how does it smell? How are you feeling when you hold the cookie, anticipating the first bite? Now slowly take a small bite. How does the cookie feel in your mouth? How does it taste? Make a list of phrases that describe your experience eating the cookie. Be sure to include some similes and metaphors.

30 Compare your list to this one
Compare your list to this one. Do you have some of the same words and phrases? aroma of rich chocolate creamy, appetizing, tasty and delicious crunchy wafer moist, sweet filling smooth and creamy in the mouth senses struck dumb and mute fudgy, gummy, sticky, chewy cookie decorated with dark delectable designs mouth waters icing like butter turning slowly to cream in my mouth sweetness lingers long after the cookie is gone better than a warm blanket on a winter’s day

31 Now write a paragraph. Here is the situation
Now write a paragraph. Here is the situation. You are very hungry, your stomach growls. You rummage through the kitchen and find a new package of Oreos. Describe the experience of eating the cookie. Remember to tell this as part of a story.

32 Here’s my version. I rummaged through the vast kitchen, my stomach complaining of its emptiness. Was there anything in this house to eat? Suddenly I spotted it. Pleasure made my hands tremble. The package of Oreos was as beautiful as rain is to a fireman. I quickly ripped the cellophane. The aroma of rich chocolate reached my senses. My mouth drooled. I twisted the cookie apart and licked the sugary, smooth filling. The icing was like butter turning slowly to cream in my mouth. Its sweetness was better than a warm blanket on a winter’s day.

33 More paragraphs for practice.
You are nervous because you are about to give a speech to all the fifth grade students at Mountain City Elementary. You are frightened because you encounter a wild animal in the woods near your home.

34 Additional Resources Toni Buzzeo What If? ALLAN HANCOCK COLLEGE WRITING CENTER Show, Don’t Tell: Specific Examples and Concrete Details Show, Don’t Tell Really Good Stuff Show Don’t Tell Writers Workshop #1 Show, Don’t Tell: Okay, But How Do You Do It? Handout: Show, Don’t Tell Developing Elaboration with showing sentences. Show, Don't Tell

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