This is less about me and more, for a moment, about my teacher self. I have spent the last week having kids on laptops in my room, writing introductory paragraphs on Google Drive and sharing it with me, having to really flesh out that paragraph before I'll let them write the next.
As always, with these assignments, the first round is frustrating. I had one "paragraph" that came in as a single sentence with two points of view. One came in with 10 you's written in a 1st person persuasive essay. And most of them seem to have some idea that their writing needs to be some variety of generic pseudo-philosophical discourse about the nature of man and how it is tied directly to the amount of money in their bank account.
Needless to say, there have been some frustrating days. And some serious reflection about why these kids just can't seem to write. They can talk, but the transition from words coming out of mouth to words coming out on hands sometimes feels like the equivalent of asking them to build a bridge that spans the Grand Canyon using only hand tools.
And then I realized it, today, when I was trying to play a bit of catch up on my NaNoWriMo. I was writing a scene that I had planned earlier, but when I went back and compared what I had written to my notes I furiously scribbled down in a moment of inspiration, I saw it. More detail. What I had written took the idea to more depth, more feeling, more specific and it was better.
It is the natural course of a writer to want to start telling a story, talking about an issue, but the writing isn't quality. We hear show don't tell until we can count those going across our minds instead of sheep when drifting off to the land where stories are made, but it really really really is the difference between quality writing and blah blah blah. Showing engages the mind, tugs at the heart, and creates what so many readers go from book to book to experience again.
So, I will continue again today, trying to help these students realize that little rule is the essence of writing, and trying to figure out how to get in mine more.
Any hints on how to explain the difference between showing and telling, especially in analytical writing? Any clues on how you make sure you are showing and not telling? Have you seen the difference in how you feel about your writing when you do show more?