Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Show, Not Tell, Second-Grade Style

A popular post from 2011.

by Annette Lyon

Recently my daughter wrote a story on the private blog she and her sister have. She included two photos with some toys in it, posed.

Both photos included a large, stuffed animal (a white, striped tiger), Snowflake.

Photo one: On top of the tiger, right on its head, is a small doll (roughly Barbie-sized), and in the voice of the doll, the post proclaims she's pretty good at climbing Snowflake, but a friend, Mia, well, she's still getting used to the climb. Oh, and it looks like Snowflake has a new hairdo.

The second photo: Mia, the American Girl doll, collapsed on top of the tiger, with only her hair visible, spread across the tiger's head like a wig.

Giggling, my daughter showed me the short story and her pictures, declaring with pride, "Look! I didn't say Mia fell over when she tried climbing Snowflake. I said she was still getting used to climbing Snowflake and then joked about Snowflake's new hair. See? I showed it!"

Cool part: She was absolutely right. Of course, it worked in part because she had photos to accompany the story. But the point remains: she never came out and stated what happened. The reader/viewer had to infer it. (And then laugh, because it was pretty clever of her.)

Figuring out when and how to show instead of tell can seem like a heavy burden and a big job. For me, it seems a bit easier to do when I look at it in terms of Mia and Snowflake.

Heck, if a second grader can get it, I should be able to figure it out, even for something as complex as a novel . . . just take it one showing moment at a time.


Julia King said...

Yep, easier said than done. Takes a little more thought and time, but pays off in the end. You must teach you kids well for your daughter to have made up the showing, not telling story. Good job!

Kimberly said...

That's rather encouraging...or possibly depressing. If a second-grader can do it, then so can I! But then, if a second-grader can do it and I can't, what does that say about me? Hmm...

Awesome example!