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St. Augustine Record – USA TODAY NETWORK

The best advice for aspiring authors can be summed up in a familiar three-word adage: “Show, don’t tell.”  Authors need to appeal to a reader’s emotions and imagination, rather than simply provide dry facts. To “tell” a description, you might write, “Joe is blind,” but if you want a description that will “show” the same person, you could write “Joe stumbled for a second, his white cane striking the fire hydrant that encroached on the narrow sidewalk.”

Show, don’t tell is also an effective tool for political campaigns.  Maybe you’re old enough to remember a 1964 campaign ad for Lyndon Johnson that featured a three-year-old girl standing in a meadow, counting aloud as she plucked petals from a daisy, followed by a narrator counting down until a nuclear bomb exploded on the television screen and we heard LBJ say, “These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.”  It was aimed at reminding voters that Barry Goldwater had claimed, “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.”

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