Learning from Bill Wallace
We have been learning to SHOW not TELL the reader using advice from Miss Gay's favorite author, Bill Wallace. Years ago, Miss Gay was lucky enough to attend a teaching conference from Bill Wallace and his wife (both are writers). Bill was teaching teachers how to get better word choice and sentence structure out of students. He gave Miss Gay this advice:
Every good read starts with a SHOW NOT TELL of the following things in the first few pages of the book:
1. Show the weather report
Example: The brisk air made me shiver as I grabbed my sweatshirt hood and pulled it over my head.
2. Show the Time (time of day, time of year, time of history)
Example: Time of day: ~The clatter in the kitchen mixed with the smell of bacon lingering in the air was enough to get me dressed in a hurry out and my bedroom door.
~The sun had long since crossed over and nestled behind the mountains in the west. The rainbow of colors displayed in the sky told us it was time to head back.
Time of year: Scattered leaves created a blanket of red, orange and yellow beneath our feet as we made our way down the path to the opening near the river.
Time in history: Mama grabbed some more logs for the fire and began to get dinner ready. She headed to the butter churn and scooped up some of the cream and placed it next to the cornbread she had made early. Crops had been good to us this harvest. We had enough corn to last us through the winter.
3. Show the place
Example: He glanced up and looked out the window. The younger kids were playing tag and tossing a football around. He placed his pencil on his desk and daydreamed. It wasn't until Sarah nudged him that he realized everyone had already lined up for P.E.
4. Show the character (character traits-- help reader get to know them)
Example: He couldn't stand it any longer. He couldn't sit back and watch it all happen. With hands clenched and eyebrows scrunched, he stood up and marched over to the commotion. Clearing his throat loud enough for the two boys to hear, he stood tall and proud and said "HEY! Leave that dog alone or you'll have to deal with me!"
5. Show a small problem
Example: That's when it happened. He hadn't been paying attention to how close he had gotten to the fire. He took one more step backwards only to feel the heat penetrate his show. Startled, he jump straight in the air and darted forward, knocking down the table of food, and tumbling into the one person he had been avoiding all night.