Show. Don’t tell

Good novelists know that it is better to demonstrate what a character feels rather than tell you about it. For instance, compare the two examples below:

“The little boy examined the ladybird curiously.”

“The boy looked at the ladybird with widened eyes. He counted six black spots on the little red insect. He picked it up, placed it on his palm and saw how it played dead. He set it down on a blade of grass and watched it climb up to the tip, spread its wings out and fly away across the meadow.”

At the end of the second description, you don’t just know about the boy’s curiosity. You feel like you know him.

The same principle applies to any virtue. Virtues are embodied, not advertised. They are demonstrated, not signaled. They are shown, not told about.

When somebody tells you about their honesty or humility, their virtues are suspect. When a startup tells you how they are disruptive, it is likely that they are not.

Real virtue is spoken about in third person, not first person.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s