Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

It’s likely that if you follow me at all you have seen how completely I wrecked my Twitter feed last week by posting a dozen remarks about my time at Planned Parenthood. It’s also possible that even if you never heard of me a week ago, I’ll have cropped up on a website you visit.

The kinds of things I experienced as an employee at a women’s health center are not unusual. The 1990s were a time of heightened rhetoric about abortion and women’s rights, and they were also a time when there was less surveillance and fewer methods for tracking people who attacked clinics. Things have improved in that sense, but clinics all over America, whether they provide abortion or not, still get harassed on a regular basis. And the rhetoric that fuels that harassment is the same toxic message that encourages people to shoot up, bomb, or burn down clinics.

If my experiences weren’t that unusual, why did people all over the internet suddenly decide my story was worth talking about? Following the attack on the clinic in Colorado Springs, people were trying to make sense of the violence and hate. Above all else, what helps us make sense of the world? What helps us connect with our fellow humans?


From back in our cave-dwelling days, humans have used stories to help us find our place in the world and process the things that happen to us. Stories have helped us to understand other people and the things they’ve been through. We may be hunched over a glowing electronic device instead of a fire now, but we’re still looking for sense. We’re still looking for stories. My small story got spread so far and wide, because it helped people understand and deal with the brutal attack that had just happened in Colorado Springs. That was the reason I shared it in the first place. Telling that story helped me process what I was feeling about people being murdered by someone motivated by extremist rhetoric.

I’m still trying to do clean up on aisle three, because my inbox contains about 200 unread messages. I imagine at some point, I’ll have something more to say about all of this, but for now, that’s my thought. We need stories. We need more of them. We need them from all kinds of people.

George TakeiIf you didn’t witness my Twitter madness, I hardly even know where to link you to. After George Takei RT’d me, I pretty much stopped keeping track of where my tweets had been shared, because I figured I could die happy. George Takei!!! That said, here are a few places, I ended up:

The tweets via Storify

Los Angeles Times

The Guardian


Huffington Post

International Business Times

The Alan Colmes Show

Read Full Post »

Show vs. Twitter

As part of a little writing project organized by Dee Garretson, I’m participating in a group of writers all discussing the same aspect of writing on the same day. Our topic for today is ye olde favorite: Show vs. Tell.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say again that Tell is not inherently evil. Beginning writers have heard the admonishment to “show, don’t tell” so many times that they think it’s written in stone. It’s important to remember that Tell has its purpose and its place.

Tell can sum up years of quotidienne activities in a paragraph. Each morning for thirty-six years, she brushed her teeth furiously before eating breakfast.

Show allows us to linger over the details of those activities in a way that reveals character motivation. She attacked her teeth and gums with the nylon bristles, scouring away any hint of plaque. She was never satisfied unless the expelled foam was tinted pink against the sink’s porcelain. After brushing, she drank orange juice.

Tell can paint a minor character in a six-word brush-stroke. He was a fat, smelly greaseball.

Show provides us with the ephemera of gesture and body odor that would allow us to identify that minor character in a mid-novel line-up. Dried sweat rings rimed the underarms of his greasy t-shirt, which was stretched taut over his belly and stained with his last three meals.

Succeed vs. Fail

Succeed vs. Fail

Which brings me to Twitter. 140 characters to get across the import of what we thought on the bus to work in the morning.  140 characters to sketch out the strangers we share that ride with. Because of the limited space, I find most of my tweets are Tell. There’s simply not enough room to adequately Show. I often tweet about what I see at the gym, but how to convey the mysteries of my fellow gym patrons in 140 characters?

To the two guys at the water fountain beside the track: get a room. #gymtwit

It tells you the rough idea of what I saw–two guys being a bit too intimate with each other while getting a drink in front of me. What I can’t show you in 140 characters is the way the younger man’s pupils went wide with desire as he admired the bent neck of his running buddy. I need more than 140 characters to show you the older man caressing the other runner’s arm, skimming sweat with his blunt fingers, even as he bent his  knee to nudge the younger man’s leg, damp, crinkly hair rubbing against blond fuzz.

Often, the choice between Show and Tell is just that pragmatic–what do you have room for? In writing short stories particularly, if you’re shooting for under 2K words, and a scene of showing will push you over, but it’s not a scene that is crucial for the reader to see in detail, you sacrifice.

Conversely, if you’re shooting for 100K word novel and you’re coming up short, you can easily go back and fill in more Show to flesh out your story with sensory detail.

Sometimes it’s a matter of emphasis–showing conveys more importance. If we see the bloody toothpaste spat into the sink, it takes on weight. Show to emphasize, Tell to de-emphasize.

Other times, it’s a matter of pacing. Show can make a scene creep like a tortoise on a desert highway, as the narrator lavishes attention on every gesture, every sensation, every play of light on the draperies. Tell can make a scene fly by so quickly we later forget it, with no sensory details to pin it to.

For all these reasons, it’s important to be comfortable and adept at using both Show and Tell. If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right? So be sure you have more than a hammer in your writing toolbox.

To see what others had to say about Show vs. Tell, please visit their blogs:

Ink (Tracey Martin)

Blond (Gretchen McNeil)

Tas (K.A. Stewart)

Wendy (Wendy Cebula)

Sunna (Amy Bai)

Melia (Dee Garretson)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: