As I’m starting out into this crazy world of writing, I find I have some bad habits. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone. I am guilty of all the “beginner writer” faults such as passive voice, adverbs, adjectives, and too much telling and not enough showing. It’s easy to get lazy and have the writing slip but I’ve gotten more wise. I catch myself in the act of making an infraction instead of after I get hauled off to writing jail. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I can’t transform into Ernest Hemingway overnight. Thank goodness because I would make a horrible looking man.
I find the showing vs telling rule one of the harder ones to master so I’ve tried to gather more information. I’ve read books on writing, googled the subject, sifted through my Pinterest boards, and paid extra attention while reading in order to improve. So here I am trying to become a better writer and my mind keeps wandering back to a Brooklyn 99 episode. This episode, in particular, makes me laugh when I think about showing vs telling so I thought I would share it with you.
Brooklyn 99 Season 3 Episode 22
In Season 3, Episode 22 of Brooklyn 99, the detectives hook up with an FBI agent to break into the FBI building to steal a file. Their hope is to catch a dirty FBI agent and put him in jail. The scene that I want to draw your attention to is when the group are standing around a sheet of blueprints for the layout of the FBI building. They are getting ready to plan their heist. In the room there is Detective Jake Peralta, Detective Rosa Diaz, Captain Raymond Holt, and FBI agent Bob Anderson. They are huddled around the blueprints and are trying to work out who will take on what role and at what time. The problem is they need something to identify each of them on the map. Jake Peralta has the solution and begins our lesson in telling. The hilarious part is in the dry, monotone, matter of fact speech pattern of Captain Holt and Bob Anderson. Check the show out on Netflix or TV to get the full effect.
Jake Peralta: “We will be represented by these things I had in my pocket. All I had was lint. It was a pocket full of lint. Everybody remember what your lint looks like.”
Bob Anderson: “My lint is round. My lint is approximately 1cm in diameter. My lint is blue.”
Capt. Holt: “My lint is oblong and it is approximately 1/2cm in length and is also blue.”
The team progresses through their plan minute by minute until Rosa moves the wrong lint on the blueprint.
Capt. Holt: “That’s my lint. My lint is oblong. My lint is blue.”
When I feel like I’m telling more than showing, this is what I think of and it makes me laugh. It may not be the best example but I bet it’s the funniest. Anyway, that’s my short little tidbit for today. You really should see the episode.