Show! Don’t Tell!


Anyone who aspires to be a good writer knows that showing rather than telling is an effective way to convey a message. I remember the lines of the great writer Anton Chekhov who said anything along these lines: don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of moonlight on shattered glass — wow!

This advice is applicable to all facets of our lives, not just writing. We can preach until we’re blue in the face, but nothing beats personal example when it comes to motivating others.

I learned this the hard way because I would find something amazing and try to force it down the throats of everyone I cared about — but this strategy, as well-intentioned as it was, backfired most of the times.

I remember a man I knew when I grew up, a rich and charismatic, alcoholic wool-dyed man. He loved clubbing, bars and parties, but he warned his children not to go that route. What the hey! What the hey! Why are your children supposed to take your advice if you see the other way around? He’d obviously never heard of “show, don’t tell!”

I know one materially successful man who claiming to adore his daughters — and yet honestly believes that his love (rather, this is a fawning and selfish bond), even as he lies and disappoints himself and everyone else in his surroundings, can be expressed through showering material benefits for them. Is it really that his children are so dense they don’t know they’re bought? I myself would prefer an economy-poor but transparent father who shows me, for instance, that life worth living needs to shine with gratitude, humility, confidence and honesty.

Even if I set high bars in our living and its exhibition, why would anyone listen to me if I am crooked? By warning anybody that only moral behavior will help them to evolve, I am also obliged to rise to my highest potential, and they will admire and appreciate me for always being straight and clear with not just them, but all those who enter my life.

We all go by materialistic gains, guess that’s the way of life today. Not bad at all. Alas! we are passing a legacy of toxified and immoral life. We are setting wrong examples. It’s time to show — not tell. We learn by examples; better we set one.

Yes, show, don’t tell is great advice and while I still have a long way to go, for I still like to talk a blue streak when I am with my friends or associates, one day I hope to radiate the highest in silence.

Pic courtesy : Google.



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Janki Shastri

A writer, a poet, a translator/interpreter , a maverick, sharing my heart out , my expression in words.