In learning the art of story writing one of the fundamental truths we are taught is to “show not tell” our story. This applies to practically any genre that we choose to write about. Merely telling a story, even if it’s a good one, puts us in danger of losing our audience before the second chapter. It will become boring to them, and boredom is a sure killer to a writer’s work.
To SHOW the story as well as TELL it has the power to draw our audience in and get them involved with our characters and the outcome of whatever plot line we have designed for them. All the great writers from Hemingway to Mark Twain used this principle in their stories.
Using ‘show not tell’ as an example I have recently realized another truth that we all should be aware of as we attempt to change ourselves into a less aggressive and more caring person. In our conversations with one another we must learn to talk TO the party involved and not AT the party involved. There is a huge difference in attitude when we INCLUDE the other as opposed to merely TELLING him.
As an example we parents spend a lot of time telling our kids stuff, we talk at them. Talking at someone is an authoritative thing, it does not include listening or give and taking. It’s basically loving the sound of our own voice so much that we are using our children as a sounding board rather than seeing them as a viable thinking person, a person that very well could be just as smart and as interesting as we see ourselves to be.
If we find the goal of every conversation we enter is to come out on top, we may have found the reason why so many others seem to be evading our speeches. Interaction among family members have a tendency to follow this course, but the same principle applies when speaking to our friends and coworkers. Even on line if we’re not careful our conversations can become a military exercise.
How much better if we talk TO that son or daughter, or brother or sister than AT them. How much better if we include them in our story than just telling them?
Try it. Ask a question or two . . . be really interested in the reply. Think about what they said instead of thinking your own talking points while they are talking . . . listen to them.
That’s what I’m going to start doing and maybe they’ll quit calling me a know-it-all?