I’ve always been told that the very best writers ‘show don’t tell’. Not sure if this is always true but I’m happy to believe that it covers a good ninety per cent of the cases, so it’s something I always try to keep in mind in prose and poetry. And personally, I don’t think there’s anything more dull than a book that lays out every single detail in a litany of absolutes.
Anyway, as it turns out, my favourite example of ‘Show Don’t Tell’ doesn’t come from a book; it comes from a tv series: Boardwalk Empire – the opening credits to be precise. From the moment you watch the opener you know you’re in for something a little bit special. What I really love about this sequence is how it tells you everything you need to know about the world of Enoch Thompson, just by watching him watch the sea:
Even the way he steps away from the ocean with dry shoes demonstrates that, in his world at least, Enoch Thompson is untouchable.
Well worth a watch (the whole thing, not just the credits).