These two short readings demonstrate exactly what I mean by the term “Show Not Tell”. Remember, the big idea here is that you write in vivid detail using images from the five senses, and these two pieces do excellent work of exactly that.
But it’s about more than just giving lots of details. It’s about giving the right details – the details that help you to create the mood, feeling, or tone you’re going for in your piece. These two pieces do exactly that – they create a mood using just the right details.
The first piece is called “A Cigarette Break,” and it was written by Silwia Januszko. At first glance, it might seem like this story is about nothing at all: it’s really just a girl at work taking a three-minute cigarette break. But what the piece does wonderfully is to create a mood, and it does that by carefully using great details. As you read and respond to this piece, you’re free to write what you like, but I’d like you also to think about those two things: what mood(s) or feeling(s) does the piece convey to you, and what specific details does the piece use to create those feelings?
The second piece is a pretty unusual story, I have to say. It’s called “She Smiles at Him,” and it was written by Yuki Okigaki. It’s about a couple’s moments just before having dinner one night – again, a pretty simple, everyday scene that might not seem like much of a story at first glance. But there is definitely more than meets the eye in this relationship, and by the end, you are likely to be asking yourself, “what is wrong in this household?” If you pay careful attention to the fine details, you can start to get an idea of what might be wrong
As you read Okigaki’s piece, you’re again free to respond in any way you like. But in addition, I’d like you to again think about the way the piece uses details. Again, describe the way that the piece uses details to create feelings in the piece. But also, this time, there is one detail in particular I’d like you to think about. The narrator mentions that everything in the kitchen was just a little too tall for the woman in the piece. What does that one detail make you think about the relationship between these two characters?