Tip #8 Oldest Writing Rule: Show Don’t Tell! But Maybe There Isn’t Time For Either!

Show don’t tell is the oldest rule in writing. Every writer says it, but not all of them follow it. What is it? It isn’t boring if it’s done properly. 

Here are some sentences about cats. It’s from: 


It was an unusual cat.


With yellow eyes glowing red, long, black fur that stood on end, a mouth full of sharp pointed teeth that emitted a yowl like a tiger, I knew that the small animal before me was no ordinary cat.

I like the second sentence, but it’s still too long. Yes, it’s better but it doesn’t work for flash fiction. Could it be better? What do you think?

Let’s look at another example. It’s from:

In a mediocre essay: I am extremely interested in chemistry, which is my favorite subject.

In a better essay: My passion for chemistry led me to enter the state science fair during my sophomore year.

In an excellent essay: As steam billowed from my test tube, I grinned, confident that my science fair project was ready to face the judges’ scrutiny.

In the last example, I see the steam in a science classroom. I am in the place of the student. There’s a science fair, and my project is getting judged soon. I think I could start story from this sentence. Hmmm.

Author: Chuck Anderson

Chuck Anderson is an art-student, runner, publisher, and writer who lives in Colorado. https://madcow.press

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