Deep thoughts and hip checks

We all know the cardinal rule of writing - show don't tell. Show me the character through action and dialogue rather than tell me about the character. Show me the character's emotions and inner conflict all through action and dialogue. Yes, dear bloggowers, I know it's hard, I can hear you complaining: 'but why can't I just write pages and pages of description of the character and what he's thinking?' Writing is not for wimps, that's why. So let's move on....   

So how do you show 'thinking'? The stereotypical tapping of the forefinger on the temple while looking quizzical? Chewing on the nub of a pen? Elbows on the table and chin cupped in hand? 

How about this scenario that played out in my office.

Dude who works in a different office down the hall, stops dead in front of my office. The First Aid sign flapped in the non-existent breeze. Wearing a shirt that was allergic to an iron, and looking like it had been on his back through a three month back packing trip through India, he stooped over, leaned against the cubicle across the hall and held his head in his hands. 

Me (being an avid First Aider): Are you okay?

Him (looking like he was startled out of a blow to the head): Yeah. 

Me (Seriously, Dude!): What are you doing? 

Him: I just had a thought and was trying to figure out what to do with it.

Me: O...k...a...y. I thought you needed First Aid (I point to the sigh outside my door).

Wow! I've been accused of deep thinking but have never had a thought hip-check me to the boards (that's hockey lingo y'all). 

That's how you show thinking ... 


Anonymous said…
Dude! That was a cool demo!
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Deb! I try my best!
Lynda R Young said…
nice example of showing (great descriptions too)
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Lynda ... sometimes life is stranger than fiction!
Talli Roland said…
Loved that example, Jan!
Great reminder! Thanks. It's so easy to fall back and forget to really flesh out the character and show not tell.
Jan Markley said…
Glad you enjoyed it Kathi! Thanks for stopping by the blog!
Dude, I loved your thoughts on this!
Jan Markley said…
Thanks your highness Samantha! I tried to keep my thoughts deep on this one!

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