When it comes to writing showing is always better than telling. Or is it?
Showing Vs Telling
Thomis sat behind a big desk in front of a hundred students ranging in age from fifteen to nineteen. He’s flapping some papers in one of his hands. “I just finished reading your Short Stories for today’s Prompt, and I’m very disappointed with what I read.”
“If you turn on your Data Monitors you will see my reviews on your papers. You will also read my comments and advice too. I’ll give you all a few minutes to read them before we continue.” Thomis leaned back in his chair – and put his holey feet up on the desk.
Actually Thomis gave them ten minutes. Thomis got up and stood in front of his desk. “The main problem I had with your stories was your telling instead of showing. Does anyone here know what I am trying to ‘tell’ you?”
Several students hit a green button on their Control Panel in front of them. Thomis looked up at the green and red light boards on either side of the only entrance there. On those boards both red and green appeared. Beneath each light there’s a name.
Thomis selected one of the lights by pointing a small stick at it and emitting a thin blue light beam from it. “Celista, I choose you.”
Celista stood up before responding. “That’s one of the problems I am having with my writing.”
“I know. That’s why I picked you.” Thomis leaned back against his desk. “Can anyone here help Celista?”
‘Why do you always pick me when you know I don’t have the answer?’ Celista thought before she sat back down behind her desk.
After no one responded Thomis went on. “While you were reading your papers I noticed some of you looked up at me whenever I did something. Can anyone tell me what I did?”
Pretty much the same green lights got pushed. Thomis hit one of them with his light stick. Steavon stood up. “First you lean back in your chair. Then you put your feet up on your desk. You have several holes in the bottom of your Foot Protectors. When you started our session you came around to the front of your desk. Then you leaned back against it.”
“That’s exactly what I did.” Thomis smiled. “The reason why I did all that was to show you what showing was in a story. What Steavon did was explain what he had seen. That’s the right way to do it. If he had just told what I did through description, or what some call action, then that would be telling.”
Thomis stopped talking for about a minute before he continued. “Description isn’t bad when it comes to writing if there is dialogue. It is without dialogue.”
“Why is it bad to write action only stories?” Ellinore asked after hitting her green button then standing up.
“Can anyone else answer that question?” Thomis looked up at the name board to see who responded to her request.
Thomis chose Jammis. “Because those kind of stories are telling not showing.”
“That’s correct.” Thomis smiled. “Can anyone tell me why showing is better than telling?”
That time Thomis selected Vivianni to answer his question. “There are several answers to that one. First It looks better with dialogue. Like splitting long paragraphs into several paragraphs – especially ones with dialogue, or separating paragraphs with a blank space, it’s also easier to read too.”
Thomis smiled - slightly. “You are correct. Are those the only reasons though?”
Illian got picked next. “Those aren’t the only ones. The main reason is because you have to think like a reader and not a writer. A reader wants to be a part of the story, and in order to do that they have to see what is going on through their eyes. They can’t do that if the writer tells the story.”
Now Thomis had a big smile on his face. “I couldn’t have said that better myself.”
Paulea stood up without hitting any buttons. She also spoke before Thomis called on her. “I disagree with that – I think you can write showing without dialogue.”
“You are right about that. Of course, you can write a story with just description, and still show instead of tell, but it’s very hard to do. It’s like Present Tense and Past Tense, which a lot of you have a problem with too, it’s very easy to go from one to the other without even realizing it.”
Thomis glanced at something on his desk. “Time is almost up for today.” He turned toward the large monitor, and started writing on it. Thomis wrote like he’s writing a paper by hand, but it came out as print like what appears on a Data Monitor.
After Thomis finished his writing he faced his students again. “The new prompt for tomorrow is up on the monitor. You only have twenty-eight hours to come up with your next story.”
Everyone looked up at the monitor behind Thomis after he sat down. The New Prompt read:
YOUR NEW PROMPT
Since a lot of you are having a lot of trouble with your Tenses your next story needs to be centered around either Past Tense or Present Tense. Whichever one your choice you need to be careful only to use that Tense. Once will not hurt your scoring, but the second one will disqualify you from winning Best Story of the Day. If you are disqualified, you can’t get the ten thousand Learning Credits.
That reminds me – we had a tie for today’s winners. It’s Haink and Wondi.
Also remember not to go over one thousand words or you will be disqualified. It will hurt your final score too.
As you know I won’t be here tomorrow. So your papers will be scored by my Assistant YaLonde. Remember that when you write your story. You all know what she likes and doesn’t like by now when it comes to Types of story she prefers to read.