Show Me – What Do You See?

Notice I didn’t say tell me.

When we learn to write in school, it’s all about telling or reporting. The bird was red. It sat on a limb. I liked to hear it sing. Boring stuff, huh?

As writers, we have to retrain our brains to describe. Read something you’ve written back when you first decided to come up with a story or novel. Read the descriptions. Were you reporting instead of describing? To teach our brains to describe, you write. And rewite. All the while trying to see what you’re describing. If you’re there, chances are so will your reader. But writing isn’t the only way to retrain our brains.

Sit outside, either in your backyard or a local park. Now focus on something. Maybe that bird singing on a tree limb. Maybe the way the trees look or the way geese swim across a pond. Now, pretend your eyes are like a video camera. It’s important to think video camera because in video, you’re recording moving things and more than one instant in time. Now, close your eyes. What do you see?

Like writing, it’s difficult at first to not report things in a choppy, still-shot 4×6 glossy photo manner. But with a five minute session a day, you’ll start to pick up subtle details and become more fluid in your descriptions. Now, when you’re at the keyboard, trying to imagine that big scene, it’ll be much easier. Give it a try. I’d love to hear what you think.

And, as promised last week, here’s the next supernatural kitty cartoon.
Demon Kitty


3 thoughts on “Show Me – What Do You See?

  1. Hey Michelle,
    Its a great lesson to pass on as many of us take quite a while to learn this trick. It can make a huge difference to the scene such as letting the reader explore it on thier own rather than being given the full guided tour where they can see how the sets built.

    Thanks for passing this on,


  2. That’s a great exercise, Michelle! Great idea. I always have a tendency to think in visual terms (probably all those years spent in front of an editing console), but sometimes my brain just freezes up. This is a great way to unfreeze it!!

    Love the supernatural kitty pictures too. I’ll have to pass those on to the cat lovers in my life.


  3. LOL, love the kitty pic 🙂

    Yes, learning to show instead of tell is hard. I have beginning writer friends who sometimes ask me to crit their work and that’s one of the biggest things I notice.

    Of course I’m still guilty of telling instead of showing, but I like to think I’m getting better.

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