Show Don’t Tell

I am working on my re-purposed essay right now, and have been trying to figure out how to word a certain part of my essay for the better half of the day.

Just to recap, I am writing about LeBron James.  In order to make this magazine article seem more real and “magazine-y” I am trying to incorporate elements that really describe James’ style of play.  While it is relatively simply to describe the way someone talks, their personality, or even quirks, I am finding that it is much more difficult to describe the way someone does something (in this case, the way LeBron James plays basketball).

I can tell my reader that James plays with intensity, but I don’t think that adequately describes the level of intensity he plays with.  The hard part is relaying this mega intensity to my readers, who, because of the nature of the magazine I am writing for, I cannot assume have ever watched LeBron James play.  If I was writing for a sports magazine such as ESPN, I could simply allude to this intensity, and the general audience would have a pretty good idea of what I was alluding to.  But, what I am struggling with is painting the picture of this intensity to an audience that may not know just how intense I mean when I say intense (does this make sense?)

In middle school we learned to “Show Don’t Tell” when we wrote.  While this idea may be cheesy and over simplified, I think that, on some level, it is exactly what I need to do in my essay.  The difference is, however, that in middle school we were describing something that was visual or a clear cut emotion.  In this case, I need to describe an action — the act of LeBron James playing basketball — while at the same time making sure my audience is well aware of the fire in his eyes when he plays the game.

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