“The glint of light on broken glass”

The Daily Post

Not only did Chekhov dispense great writing advice, he was a sharp dresser, too. Not only did Chekhov dispense great writing advice, he was a snappy dresser, too.

In college, my writing professors shared a constant refrain: “show, don’t tell.” I had a hard time grasping this nuance of writerly advice until I discovered a quote by Anton Chekhov — a Russian physician considered to be one of the greatest short story writers of all time:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
–Anton Chekhov

For me, reading this quote made “showing” “click.” Not only does showing make writing far more interesting to read, it’s free of that boring clunkiness — that perceptible weight telling hangs on innocent passages of text that make them drag for the reader.

Often these “showing” parts make you swoon and sweep you off your feet. Consider this passage from one of my favorite novels of all-time: The Shipping News

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