Saturday, December 21, 2013

In the War of Words: Show, Don't Tell

A common tip to writers is to "Show, don't tell."

The teaching eludes many beginning writers but the lesson is simple: do away with too many adjectives, banish weak verbs, and strike-out unnecessary helping verbs; then use strong verbs that show rather than tell.

People want to be shown, not told.

A clear example would be...

“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
Anton Chekhov
* * * * *
Scripture tells us much the same. St. Francis reminds us..."Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words."

Whether he actually said this or not, my point is that actions really do speak louder than words. Words are the tools we use to back those actions up. The Gospel message is a message to be acted upon and lived out and spoken of. The Word did become flesh...and dwelt among us. There's a lot to grasp in that concept.

My point...yet we are told things all our life. We grow desensitized and deaf. Ask any parent who has told their child something over and over again, only to have the child proclaim the same thing spoken to him by a teacher as though it were gospel truth.

We can think we are right, we can even know we are right, but it won't make any difference if we utter it with pride and arrogance and righteousness.

We become deaf to words that do not have true meaning behind it.

Our words must be made on bone-afide (excuse the play on words) flesh and blood and must dwell amongst us. Otherwise, they mean nothing.

It isn't what we say, it's how we say it. I've attempted, on occasion, to explain the concept.

The Face of Christ Facing Humanity
What Is Truth? What is Charity?

Ann always says it better, more gently, than I do...

Dear Kids, What You Need to Know About Duck Dynasty

I am not contradicting Ann's words in the least regarding how explosive words can be. Words do matter.

They may not break bones but they can certainly break hearts.

I've seen words matter a thousand times plus. But it's the music behind the words that matter most. Phil admits he was a little coarse. He should have just quoted Scripture. No one can argue with that. Angry words never invite dialogue.

I've heard people pride themselves (there's the secret word pride) in speaking the truth and standing up to the forces out there and proclaiming justice and liberty for all.

Bravo! for them. Yet when everyone is doing it with equal Bravo-ity regarding their own bravery and opinionated selves, the words fall on deaf ears. Silence exfoliated with kindness can prove more beneficial than the loudest and most arrogant words.

The war of words will be won with quiet kindness over opinionated wisdom anyday.

It will not matter if what we say is absolutely, completely right if we do not show love and kindness first. I think, sooner or later, society will learn this...

If the media stops pitting us against one another.

Again...Ann's words are more eloquent than my own.


  1. I have always disagreed with that writing advice, lol - but the spirit of your words here is wise and beautiful as regards to life. Yours is the third post I've read today on this subject, and it's really soaking in to my heart.

  2. Disagreed, Sarah? And you a poet of words? Would love to hear your thought process behind that.

  3. Very true...I love Pope Francis's stance on the issue of homosexuality in general - that who are we to judge if people try to seek God and love Him? I think we do place too much importance on shaking our fingers and telling others what they're doing wrong when really we should be living out the "right."


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