Do you write like a snorkeler or a scuba diver?

Mar 21, 2013
Ruth Culham, author of Traits Writing, made a fascinating point in her session at the ASCD conference that I think will really resonate with teachers and writers. Not many people would think about comparing writers to snorkelers, but after hearing Ruth’s example you will quickly change your mind; I know I did! Many teachers tell their students to “show, don’t tell” when writing, but what exactly does that mean? Ruth provided a great example for teachers to use with students to encourage them to dive deeper when writing. She says, “”Don’t write like snorkelers; don’t sit on the surface. There’s so much interesting stuff deeper in the ocean.” While snorkelers float on the surface and can only see the fish and shells from a distance, scuba divers go deeper and can make out all the details of the fish, from their scales to their iridescent colors. They can even possibly hold a shell in their hand! Even though scuba diving may be intimidating and can take more time than snorkeling, the reward is much bigger.