The Social Media Game That Will Make You a Better Writer

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

That was how Anton Chekhov advised writers to “show, don’t tell.”

It’s a beautiful line. Powerful. Does exactly what it says.

But then — that’s Chekhov. It’s a pretty high bar.

To a lot of nonwriters, “show, don’t tell” sounds like some mysterious spell they don’t quite understand. They try to apply it through a ton of adjectives and adverbs, describing the thing they’re showing. Or they create labored analogies. Their work groans under the weight of all those similes and metaphors.

Rather than adding clarity and impact to their work, which is the point, they end up hiding their message behind a bunch of extra words.

So let’s put Chekhov to the side and play a game instead. Games are way more fun.

Have you ever played “tell me without telling me?” It’s a social media game. It starts with a challenge and people respond. For example:

“Tell me you’re short without telling me you’re short.”

“I think airplane seats have plenty of legroom.”

“Tell me you’re from the Midwest without telling me you’re from the Midwest.”

“I wear layers — just because it was 30 degrees when I left the house this morning doesn’t mean it won’t be 70 this afternoon.”

It’s a pretty fun game. Gets the creative juices flowing. And…it’s “show, don’t tell” in practice. When you “tell me without telling me” you’re showing the glint of light on glass.

The next time a piece of writing feels flat, see if you can find a place where “tell me without telling me” could give it a little life.

You might be a better writer than you thought.

Originally published at https://danaherra.com on March 17, 2022 and in the Atomic Content newsletter.

Get Atomic Content tips like this delivered to your inbox twice a week.

--

--

--

Dana Herra is a copywriter and marketing consultant. She specializes in helping small and medium businesses find and use their unique voice. www.danaherra.com.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dana Herra

Dana Herra

Dana Herra is a copywriter and marketing consultant. She specializes in helping small and medium businesses find and use their unique voice. www.danaherra.com.

More from Medium

Why Is It So Hard to Write Every Day?

The Writing Trend of 2022

4 Tips For People That Want To Build A Writing Routine And Don’t Know Where To Start

Freelance Writing or Copywriting?