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Show, Don't Tell


Additional Resources Toni Buzzeo What If ... that beautiful spring day ... Fireworks 1_Fireworks Show, Don ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Show, Don't Tell

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

What is Show, Dont Tell?
  • The Show, Dont 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.

Brain Pop
  • Show, Dont Tell http//

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

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.

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

  • What differences did you see in the two
  • 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
  • Now compare the next two slides.

Which is better? This . . .
  • Still holding my dogs by their collars,
    I looked back. I couldnt 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, Whats
    the matter?
  • He didnt answer. He just stood as
    though in a trance, staring down at Rubin.
  • I hollered again. He still didnt
    answer. I didnt know what to do. I couldnt 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 Rainies
    side. I again asked, Whats 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.

Or This?
  • Rainie was acting strange. I asked him what
    was wrong, but he didnt 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.

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

  • Check out one more example of how Show, Dont
    Tell helps make a story more interesting.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

  • Complete the following worksheet Elaborate by
    Showing, Not Telling
  • http//

United Streaming
  • Mood and Sensory Images 0620
  • http//

  • Now lets practice by writing our own
    paragraph. First name some things a person might
    do when angry.

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Read my version of the wallet story. Highlight
    the words that show, dont tell.

Highlight the words or phrases that show, dont
  • 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 couldnt even pay for a ride home
    without my wallet.

  • 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.

  • 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
  • sweetness lingers long after the cookie is gone
  • better than a warm blanket on a winters day

  • 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.

Heres 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
    winters day.

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.

Additional Resources
  • Toni Buzzeo http//
  • What If? http//
    Tell Specific Examples and Concrete Details
  • http//
  • Show, Dont Tell http//
  • Really Good Stuff http//
  • Show Dont Tell http//
  • Writers Workshop 1 Show, Dont Tell Okay, But
    How Do You Do It? http//
  • Handout Show, Dont Tell http//
  • Developing Elaboration with showing sentences.
    Show, Don't Tell http//www.myenglishlanguagecorne't20tell20me20Writ