Welcome to Telling Tuesday, a day reminiscent of those in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought for show and tell. This weekly feature was inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, 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.
We had a bit of a mishap at the bonfire on Saturday. One of the lanterns we released into the air caught a down draft and the lantern came crashing down into the grass. At first it looked like it would burn itself out, but then we could tell the grass caught fire. With the wind blowing, it wouldn’t be long before the tiny fire got out of control. This gave me my prompt for the week:
Smoke got in her eyes.
Only moments before, the group of friends had circled around a bonfire. Into the flames, they had each tossed notes jotted with things they wanted to be rid of in the New Year.
Hers was fear.
Now, they watched lanterns they had released into the air, filled with aspirations and blessings for the New Year. Up the bright red lanterns drifted. Up, up, up, carrying each into the Universe.
But the wind whipped and blew one to the ground, bringing a chorus of “oh no” from the group.
Whose lantern had crashed? She watched it begin to burn out, until another gust of wind blew.
The embers turned the flames! The grass was ablaze!
She ran. Ran hard, her mind filled with images of an out-of-control blaze. Breathless, she arrived at the circle of flames that danced like devils in the wind. She stomped the orange heat, but it continued to grow around her, so she stomped harder. Faster.
Water. A shovel. She needed something. Anything. The flames spread. Smoke burned her eyes. Fire scorched her shoes.
It was out of control.
Then, someone came beside her and began slamming the ground with a coat. She stomped, the person next to her slammed. She didn’t know, didn’t care who it was. She was only glad not to be alone.
“Don’t worry, Jan,” the person said, “I got your back.”
“Oh, please, God,” Ruth whispered. “Please help us put out this fire.”
Slowly, slowly, the flames died. Jan kept stomping. Ruth kept slamming. Until at last, every ember had burned out.
Relieved, they hugged each other, each reliving the experience through breathless phrases.
“Can’t believe . . .”
“Brave . . .”
“Got your back . . .”
“Thank God . . .”
As they walked away from the blackened circle in the grass, Jan smiled, remembering that piece of paper she’d tossed into the bonfire.
And the blessing she had released into the Universe.
Okay. That was my slightly creative non-fiction of an actual event. Show me yours!
As always, feel free to offer critique (ie, was it suspenseful? Did you “feel” it? How can it be improved?) And I always invite you to include a link to your blog in your comments.