Monday, August 1, 2011

Illustrating a Point

RIMG0463Our family took a short vacation during my blogging break and tried to escape the blistering heat by visiting the mountains.

We stayed in a town with a reputation for quirkiness. And quirkiness is something that our metro area of Charlotte, North Carolina, isn’t known for (Charlotte, a banking town, is fairly staid.) I thought I should give the kids a heads-up that we weren’t in Charlotte anymore.

We were sitting outside a vegan restaurant with an organic garden eating unusual food that I couldn’t pronounce. “What’s interesting about this town,” I said, “are the people. They’re pretty quirky. It’s a very artsy town.”

“You’re an artist,” said my son.

“Well, yeessss….but not like these folks.”

“Because you don’t have tattoos and piercings and pink hair?” he asked.

“I guess. But also because these people act a little offbeat, too.”

“What’s offbeat?” asked my daughter, squinting.

I was floundering, not sure how to express the ways the town we were in was cool, interesting, and different when a man on a motorcycle puttered by. He wore an eye-catching, splashy, sparkly outfit. His motorcycle pulled a trailer carrying chicken coops full of squawking chickens.

“Oh! Got it,” said my son, watching the man go by.

Which is exactly why showing is so much more effective than telling. (It’s also why I wish I could paint!) I've spent a lot of time the last week or so, editing that old manuscript to take out telling descriptions...a pain, but it just reads so much better.

How do you show instead of tell?