Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Show Me Don't Tell Me How-To


Writers hear those words frequently, but rarely will the phrase be accompanied with an example.

One of my favorite sayings is "Keep it simple." I am sure you've heard it spoken.

I am going to write an example of Show me, don't tell me and do my best to keep it simple.

Here is my Tell me.

Jonathan stood at the edge of the cliff and peered into the valley. A spark of light caught his attention. The light came from the end of a scope mounted on a rifle held by the sniper he tried to escape. He knew if he could sneak up on the man, he might disarm him and become the hunter.


He nearly fell, but did not and dropped to a ledge below where he crouched, found an animal trail, and carefully made his way down to the floor of the valley. The sniper must have heard him or saw him, and approached warily.

Jonathan drew his own gun and when he thought the sniper was close enough, stood and shot him.

Now, here is my Show me.


His foot slipped, sending loose rocks tumbling over the cliff. Jonathan waved his arms frantically, as he began to fall. Movement about two-hundred feet below him that seemed in reaction to his stumble, flashed like a mirror's reflection.

He groaned as his elbow hit the rocky surface, as his fingers dug in scrabbling to stop his fall.

Damn sniper, he thought as he heard a rifle's report, and felt his legs dangle over the edge.

Rock shattered around his face, sent razor splinters into his left forearm. He cried out in pain, but refused to quit, refused to die.

Finally he stabilized, but instead of pulling up, he lowered himself down, nearly panting with fear, knowing the next shot might be the last sound he heard.

After a quick glance, he saw a ledge covered with boulders and let go of the cliff, dropped fast and hard. He hit, rolled, and collided with a huge stone that hid him from the sniper.

"Hope you think you killed me," he muttered, crept around the end of the boulder, and spied a narrow goat path that wound downward.

After examining his wounds and deciding they were superficial, Jonathan low-crawled to the start of the path. A glance down showed him that the terrain would offer him shelter with an occasional opening that might leave him vulnerable if the sniper saw him as he crossed it.

He painfully crab-walked the first one hundred fifty feet, stopped before crossing an open area, searched for his adversary, did not see him, and then stood and ran. His ankle twisted as he neared the bottom, as his foot landed on loose stones. Jonathan threw out his arms, stopping his fall, and knew he was safely down.

However, he heard approaching footsteps. They sounded steady and determined. Reaching behind him, his fingers fumbled with the hold-down, forced open the snap and lifted out the short barrel .38 he carried in a waist holster.

Waiting, holding his breath, Jonathan braced for confrontation. Stones tumbled about ten feet to his left. He flipped off the safety, stood, and blindly fired three shots.

Two echoed off stone. The third hit something soft sounding as if the bullet had passed through water.

He heard a loud clatter, a heavy boneless thud, and then silence. Jonathan held his handgun in front of him, walked over and looked down on the sniper's corpse. The arteries on the right side of his neck pulsed out the last of the snipers blood.

Jonathan kicked the scoped rifle aside, and sat on the nearest large stone with a flat surface, and ran his hands through his thinning brown hair allowing his heart to slow before phoning for help.
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