Friday, January 8, 2010

Show Me Again (Part 2 of 6)

Here’s what we call a telling statement: Jason raged against his wife. Because rage is a strong verb, many writers assume they’ve shown emotion. They haven’t. Here’s a picture of rage: Jason grabbed Ellen’s chiffon dress off the hanger and ripped it down the front. He threw it to the floor and stomped on it with his muddy boots.

You may think the art of showing is a modern concept, but it's always been the mark of good writing. Here’s an example from the 1857 novel, Madame Bovary. If Gustave Flaubert had been a lazy writer, he could have said, "Charles Bovary was a boring person." Despite being a trifle long, he makes us see and feel Charles:
Charles’s conversation was as flat as a sidewalk, with everyone’s ideas walking through in ordinary dress, arousing neither emotion, nor laughter, nor dreams. He had never been curious, he said, to go and see a touring company of Paris actors at the theatre. He couldn’t swim, fence, or shoot, and once he couldn’t even explain to Emma a term about horseback riding she had come across in a novel. (p.60)

Showing brings life to your writing and makes readers part of your story.


  1. This is great Cec! Hey, is that a telling statement? :)

  2. Marti grinned as she read Cec's blog. She shook her head slightly and remembered his adamant refusal a few months earlier. "Only Twila," she breathed. "Only Twila."

  3. What a gift you are to the writing community.

    But even more than that- what a gift you are to the thousands who'll be touched even more deeply by our words because Cecil Murphy dared to breathe fresh life, wisdom, and mentoring into us writers.

    Thank you.

  4. Shirley stifled a yawn. Only Cec Murphey could get her to read that paragraph. She was so relieved she didn't have Charles for a neighbour.

    Thank you for passing on your knowledge in this way, Cec.

  5. I am thrilled to find this blog! Looking forward to reading every post and improving my writing on a daily basis.

    Thank you!


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