Telling Tuesdays 12/13/11

Telling Tuesday. Reminiscent of those days in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought to show and inspired by an article on, called “How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre.”

It is one of the best articles I’ve seen on the rule all writers know–show, don’t tell–because it doesn’t just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre’s very own examples.

” . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander.” — Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I’ll give a “telling” prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander.

This week’s prompt was inspired by a passage in a book I’m reading, Life of Pi. Here’s the excerpt:

     Richard Parker has stayed with me. I’ve never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares, mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. That pain is like an axe that chops at my heart.

So, here’s this week’s “telling” prompt. What can you “show” us?

She was sad when he left.

Here’s an excerpt from a story I wrote several years ago (Voices, Volume I, High Hill Press, 2008) about a couple and their sailboat called “Haiku”:

     He pulled away from her driveway with Haiku in-tow, leaving her feeling as empty as her now vacant garage. Sadness hovered like a gray cloud when a realization fixed itself in her heart – a realization as clear as the 800 pound gorilla that stood in the corner, its arms crossed in mock satisfaction.
  Their dance was nearing an end. Like the sailboats she’d watched on San Francisco Bay, their souls had moved toward each other, but never touched.
  And sailing Haiku wouldn’t change anything.
      Her bed is empty
      Train whistle cries far away
      She hugs her pillow.

I’m looking forward to reading your “show” part of show and tell!

This entry was posted in Haiku, John LeCarre, show and tell, Telling Tuesday, Write To Done, writing, writing prompt. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Telling Tuesdays 12/13/11

  1. My heart sunk deep in my chest. Self doubt coated my body and visions of jeering colleagues riddled my brain. Who was I? How could I possibly think I could write anything worth reading? Why didn't I have her talent? Why, oh why did my prose flow forth like clumsy, adolescent boys and hers flow like coconut oil over golden, tanned skin?Since I couldn't possibly top your example of sadness, I decided to show my envy instead! Great example of show don't tell, Jan. Thanks!


  2. Jan Morrill says:

    Oh, please, Claire. I've heard your prose. I don't know what clutched tighter, my throat or my heart. And what burned more, my tears, or my desire. But thank you, anyway. 🙂


  3. Madison Woods says:

    Here's mine. I'm enjoying this new schedule of yours, Jan :)***She lay with her face buried in the crook of her arm on a large flat rock in the middle of the creek. Water gurgled past, carried a leaf bumping here and there. Sometimes they sank before they travelled twenty feet. Time moved on. But she would stay right there, immoveable as the rock until his return.


  4. Palooski65 says:

    His scent, sawdust mixed with sweat and Wild Country, was fading from the crumpled pillow on, what had been, his side of their Queen-sized bed. The hallway, void of the pad, scuffle, drag of his footsteps, stretched in dark shadow and gloom as Martha felt her way to the kitchen. Another sleepless night. Another cup of tea alone. Six-month-old obituaries covered the table–time to find another lonely widower!


  5. Madison Woods says:

    I keep doing it backwards -posting my comment and then going back to read your post. The saddness in your showing is soul-crushing in weight. Very good job.


  6. Jan Morrill says:

    Oooh, Madison. I love it. The vision of the creek, time passing, and that last sentence. Very powerful!@Palooski65 – Wow, I could feel the emptiness of that bed, the loneliness of the house.Good "showing!" 🙂


  7. Of course, I wasn't going to take him to bed. I knew that. There was no need for the lecture they droned on and on with before they drove away. But once the tail lights disappeared in the fog, well, how could I resist those soulful brown eyes. He'd only be here one night, what harm would it do, really? Now,alone, his side of the bed cold. I see the danger. I miss him already, and it won't be until next month when they go to that writer's conference in Branson that I'll be asked, once again, to dog sit with Buster.


  8. Jan Morrill says:

    Pam, I LOVE that. Boy, the ending sure surprised me. I'd begun to think we might have some secrets in our midst. 🙂


  9. Ruth says:

    One kiss. Then he drove away. This couldn't be end. But that kiss– an empty corn husk of emotion void of even a hint of the white-hot passion that had once scorched, seared and fused our souls into one complete spirit. Limp as lettuce, I crumbled to the floor, arms wrapped tight around my sides while sobs racked my bones and stripped away all dignity like flesh being torn piece-by-piece by the taskmaster's whip. "Why?" Bitter sorrow chewed a hole through my heart. A hole that would never heal. I would have to grow a new one.


  10. Jan Morrill says:

    Beautiful, Ruth. "An empty corn husk of emotion." Poignant, and it set the sense of place. A powerful "showing!"


  11. Jan Morrill says:

    We have our first male, brave enough to "show" us lost love — kind of. :)Bud gave me permission to post his "showing;"She knew he’d be gone by the time she woke. He had to leave early to catch the plane. Three months, it would seem like an eternity. They had only been married a year, never apart, and now she was pregnant. She started to cry as she walked to the bathroom. The banner strung across the wall and mirror startled her, and brought a smile. The banner had a large heart on it with a picture of the two of them in the middle. A message said: ‘I promised you I would never leave you. I put Skype on your computer. I’ll be home every night. Love, Bob.’Very sweet, Bud! Lost love doesn't always have to be heartbreaking, eh?


  12. Linda Joyce says:

    I really wanted to take the challenge from the prompt…but I couldn't conjure up sadness today. However, I feel like I obsorbed another layer about the craft of writing from the combination of posts. Thank you, Jan!~Linda Joyce


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