Emilia Kettle Journalism

Week Six: Crafting: show and don’t tell, word choice, metaphor and syntax.


Show and don’t tell:

This week we used the technique Show and don’t tell, which is when you chose certain words in a certain order to make sure that you are showing the reader an image rather than just telling them about it. We were giving a piece that needed to be improved as it was only telling rather than showing. 

The original:

She answered the phone and gave her name. She said she did not take cold calls and that she regarded them as an invasion of privacy. She added that she was especially not interested in double-glazing.

My version:

Tracy Cole answered the phone reluctantly, quickly wishing she hadn’t when a response came about double glazing windows. Ms Cole gave a harsh but honesty response to the cold caller, “this an invasion of privacy”. The caller was unable to get anything thing out before Ms Cole slammed the phone down, to continue making her cup of tea.

You can see that in the first piece the word “she” is heavily repeated throughout the piece giving the reader very little idea of an image for the situation. Also there is no dialogue meaning it’s even harder for the reader to create an image, which is why when I wrote my piece I used dialogue so an image is easier to create. Plus I added a name so the reader can get a more specific idea rather than just written ‘she’ all the time.

We also researched the technique, I found a professional piece which helped me write my own.

The original:

They went to New York to see Cats. They both enjoyed it very much. When they tried to go home, their flight was delayed because of the snow so they stayed another night and decided to see the musical again.


Tanya and James flew to New York city in a 747. They got their bags, took a taxi to their hotel, and checked into their rooms. “I can’t wait to see the show,” Tanya said. “You’re going to love it.” James shook his head. “I don’t get it. It’s about Cats who sing and dance? Sounds sorta dumb.” Tanya smiled, “Just trust me.”

Their hotel was just a few blocks from the Foxwoods Theater so they walked. He had never seen buildings so tall or so many people walking on the street. When they got to the theater, Tanya noticed his eyes were a little wider, his mouth a little slacker. The foyer was covered in gold and white marble, with hundreds of people milling around in gowns and beautiful suits. He didn’t talk much. Finally, they took their seats, and the lights went down. He took her hand.

You can see that the first piece has no dialogue and very little detail over the entire  experiences. But in the improved version there is dialogue as well as a small amount of description. The only real differences this piece has to mine is that it’s not in the past tense, meaning the writer was able to create a bigger image for the reader.

Word Choice:

Word choice is when you chose certain words to create a specific image or idea as a writer for the reader. We did two different examples, one was improving our own piece, the other we were giving an opening  sentences  and we had to write on from using that opening line. The line “A guy walks into a bar and orders a drink” from this we wrote a our own versions.

The beaten up man stumbles into the dim bar and orders a whisky on rocks. Setting down on the red leather stall, arms on the wooden bar, thanking the bartender. Looking up at the bar’s mirror, only to be met with his own defeated face staring back at him.

You can see that from that one line I changed the words and the syntax to create a piece with mystery and suspense. Having that one sentence meant I was able to write what ever idea came to me head. Choosing the right words meant I was able to create a picture in the readers head of what the man might have been doing. Also I changed the word ‘guy’ to ‘man’ to give the reader the idea that he is quite significant or even someone of importance.

We also had to re-craft a piece we wrote before, I chose the piece about a setting from the story we wrote. This is because I wanted to see what a different choice of words and syntax would have done.

The small grains of sand layed beneath Tessa as she sat watching the sun set over Chicago as ‘Grateful dead’ played in her head. The purple sunset marked another end of the day for Tess as she drew closer to leaving the place she loathed. The cold brisk autumn air flew around Tessa, as the seagulls danced around the evening sun. A metal structure sat centre in the ocean, shining the light of the falling sun in Tessa’s eyes. Salt from the cold sea air brought back memories of days out with her parents as they ate fish and chips along the sea front. Tessa sat on the beach alone; her only company were the seagulls in the far distance. The beach held no sign that she was in a republican ran country or even America, just that she could see the sunset, that she could see her future.

You can see that this still has the same concept as my original piece but the newer version is more focused and the words aren’t as repetitive. I kept the same concept and surroundings because I liked the idea and  the aspects I created but I felt like the order of words could have been improved. Overall I liked how this piece was similar to my previous piece but with the new use of words and syntax it came across as a bigger image and more descriptive using fewer words but words with more meanings.

This headline from ‘The New York Times’ shows a use of word choice:

Trump and Obama Meet to Break the Ice

You can see that this headline uses words like ‘break’ giving an impression that the situation is quit tense or even uncomfortable. Doing this allows the reader to already get an idea of what the article is about and the entire feeling in the situation. This piece helped me get an understanding of how a word can give an idea for the reader of what the image is.

Syntax and Metaphor:

Syntax is the order of words you use in sentences to create a certain impression in the readers head.  A metaphor is when you write something  that has a secret meaning. We showed the use of syntax and metaphor by writing six word memoir, based of Ernest Hemingway’s short story.

We first looked at some professional pieces to get inspired to write our own.

You can see that each of these have different meanings, along with different use of punctuation which also helps each memoir have a different meaning. Plus the choice of words also helps create an idea for the reader of what each memoir is trying to say, for such the second memoir I chose uses the word ‘defined’ giving a strong meaning that they oppose to the idea of being placed in a certain category or a person opinion. Also the words help create metaphors which mean different things for everyone.  Using the professional I tried to write some of my own.

You can see that each one has a different meaning, some more explicit than others. However they all relate to me in one certain way. Some have more punctuation than others and some of the words are harsher than others. Such as the first memoir is quit calm and emotive unlike the last memoir which is straight to the point and doesn’t really allow each any idea of what else it could mean. However if I were to re-write any of these then I would have used a wider range of punctuation and made the words give of a bigger metaphor.