I’ve always been envious of storytellers.
There is a difference between being a writer and a storyteller. I can write a blogpost or speech, even a how-to. You want practical examples? I’m your woman. Action in a storyline? Not so much.
There is also a difference between writing to be read, and writing to be watched. In a novel you can have characters sit around talking. In a visual medium, like TV, YouTube, or a movie, that puts an audience to sleep.
“Show, don’t tell.” I’ve heard that phrase hundreds of times.
Let’s say you have a character who is afraid of heights but has to climb a ladder…
***DISCLAIMER! I sent my original example to storyteller Lewis D. Chaney. He completely rewrote it. After comparing the two, I am using his version, because…well…if you read the original you would understand, but now you won’t have to. You’re welcome. ***
If I write “he was afraid of heights”, you shrug and go, okay. That’s writing but to SHOW you the story, instead I write “he put his hands on the ladder, looked up and drew a sharp breath. The ladder seemed to extend to the clouds. His foot found the first step and he slowly began to climb. Half way up, shaking, he paused and looked down. His trembling, sweaty hands clutched the sides of the ladder and he began to hyperventilate”. You FELT that one, the same way a movie would show you that.
Much better. Thank you, Lewis! And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post:
Show, don’t tell.
Love is also show, don’t tell.
I can tell you I love you. I can even gaze longingly at you from across the room. But isn’t it more meaningful if I show you?
We can say we love the world and the people in it but unless our actions show it, our words are a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.
If we say we love mankind but value some better than others based on skin color, political affiliation, clothing, where they live, anything other than the fact that they are a fellow human being, is that love?
If we treat our fellow man with violence, verbal and emotional abuse, manipulation, and condescension, is that love?
If we say any human being is “nothing but,” (gay, liberal, conservative, addict, poser, troll) then we treat them accordingly. Is that love?
This is what love looks like: patient, kind, content, deprecating, humble, honoring, seeking to put others first, placating, forgiving, truthful, protecting, trusting, hopeful, hanging in there no matter what.
Love...has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. --Augustine of Hippo
Love. It’s not just Show and Tell, it’s more Show than Tell.
(credit to LDC for the last line, too)
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