Show Not Tell
The Word: SHOW
Show don’t tell. That’s what they teach you in writing class.
But in therapy, they call that ‘acting out.’
For instance, when I kicked the door in, splintering the flimsy wood with a heavy boot.
Instead of saying, “I have had enough. Human beings can only take so much. You have pressed me to the limit.”
I kicked the door in.
Hearing it smash. Feeling the give.
That was showing.
Which gives us to understand the essential difference between life and fiction.
In life, you try not to show. You work for years to be able to tell, precisely and with conviction. Thousands of dollars of hardearned money. You try to ‘become conscious’, you try to find words, you control your fury, it’s historical, you know where it comes from. Healthy people don’t ‘act out.’
In fiction, you just kick in the goddamn door.
Which is to say, fiction is better than life.
It felt good to kick in that door. I had your attention, then.
Perhaps I’m becoming a fictional character.
Perhaps we’re learning to live again from our books.
We’ll show and show and show.
Part of a weekly series of short short stories based on a writing exercise, The Word. “Inspired by a simple word, chosen at random, write a two-page double-spaced story, using the Word at least once.”
Next week’s word is: GRAIN