Richard Gilbert, in his blog Narrative, provides an interesting take on a topic we have discussed here several times – showing rather than telling as a way to bring writing to life. Gilbert expresses the idea as “giving our readers an experience.”
Gilbert suggest that writers should employ techniques outlined by writing theorist Peter Elbow in his classic book Writing With Power. "If writers desire readers to breathe life into their words, then they must breathe experience into their words as they write,” says Elbow.
To do this, says Elbow,
If you want your words to make a reader have an experience, you have to have an experience yourself—not just deal in ideas or concepts. What this means in practice is you have to put all your energy into seeing—into connecting or making contact or participating with what you are writing about—into being there or having the hallucination. And no effort at all into searching for words. When you have the experience, …, you can just open your mouth and the words that emerge will be what you need. (In the case of writing, though, you will have to revise later.)
Experience the thing or event is better advice, he says than, “Give me more details.”
Click here to read Richard Gilbert’s May 22, 2010 post.