Back to Basics

I had an interesting conversation with some other writers yesterday about “Show, Don’t Tell.” One woman was concerned that the memoir she was writing would become too historical, too broad and diluted. She wanted to keep it personal. A second woman suggested, “Just tell us what you know, not what you think.” We all agreed. It’s amazing how we can stray from what we learned in Mrs. McCarty’s eighth grade English class.

If we step too far back and opine about a topic or launch into an academic discussion, we’ll lose the reader. But if we just take the reader by the hand and show, “this is what happened, and this and this,” they’ll be right there with us. The details we need to include will arise and the reader will make his or her own conclusions.

Of course, all this theory leads me back to the fact that we have to actually write. Even the basics don’t work in the abstract.