Editing A Short Story: Show Don’t Tell

Editors will harp at writers time and time again about “Show, don’t tell!” This tactic is so vital to any form of writing: creative, fiction, non-fiction, formal, informal, business…any form! Editors know that this method aids the creative flow of any piece of writing. Editing the short story is critical if you want to publish it.

For example, you are writing about the first premature baby born to a young couple. The birth had complications. So you start the story as follows:

The baby cried.

This is an interesting sentence, because the reader wants to know why the baby is crying, and whose baby it is. Almost everyone has seen or heard a baby cry. But you add details that enhance the sentence:

John peered through the glass window at his infant son who was crying.

That’s better, isn’t it? But even more so if you write as follows:

John, the new father, peered through the glass window at his infant son, tiny, crying, and gasping as he lay in the incubator at the intensive neonatal care unit among the enormous life-sustaining machines and intravenous tubes he was hooked up to.

With this sentence you have introduced character and setting, and shown to the reader the circumstance or beginning of a story.

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