“Show, Don’t Tell”

After reading “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster,” a Pulitzer winner story for feature writing, by Jon Franklin, and “Jon Franklin and “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster“” by Paige Williams for the Nieman Foundation at Harvard, I realized again how profiles can be written in a different way. This profile is about Dr. Thomas Barbee Ducker, a brain surgeon who had to perform a nerve-racking operation on Edna Kelly. He delivers this profile in a narrative way which makes it really eye-catching and entertaining to read.

I really liked how he started the profile in Dr. Ducker’s house and how his wife is preparing his breakfast. In my opinion, when a profile starts when the interviewee starts their day, it keeps the reader interested to read how their day develops. I also really liked how he explains a lot of the things that were happening. For example, when the doctor was performing the surgery he says: “His strategy is to push between the forebrain, where conscious thought occurs, and the thumb-like projection of the brain, called the temporal lobe, that extends beneath the temples.”

After reading the annotated version I found it really intriguing when Franklin says that when “The neurosurgeon freezes” this is a very active thing for Dr. Ducker to do. I really like this because by not doing anything, Dr. Ducker is doing a lot of things. Another annotation that I liked is the one that he made about food. I love food. I love eating. When I read about food and how he says that “food is a life process” I was really happy.

I found interesting when he explains that he did not include a lot about Mrs. Kelly because he did not want to take the focus off of Dr. Ducker. However, when he talked about her it was really good. My favorite part of the story is when he says “Mrs. Kelly grabbed her head and collapsed” and when I read his annotation I liked it even more because he says that the story does not say how she fell, but it shows it, which I agree. I also liked learning about how she had her first intracranial bleed while she was pregnant, but she decided to raise her children and take care of her husband. It is always inspiring to read about strong women.

3137589099_12e3915e41This story is really engrossing because of one technique. This technique, which I think that it is the most important, is to always use action because it will show the reader how something is happening. Like he said, “Show, don’t tell.” He does this when he showed how Mrs. Kelly felt when one of the abnormal arteries burst, and when “the technician checked the brain surgery microscope and the nurse put out instruments.”

After reading this story I have learned a lot of interesting facts that I did not know about feature writing. Franklin is a really good journalist and I really liked the way he wrote this story and why he wrote it. It is always fascinating to learn new ways to write feature stories.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I will go buy one his books and spend the whole day reading it.

Thank you for reading!


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