Replacing ten pages with 31 words

He looked at her as a man looks at a faded flower he has plucked, in which he can barely recognize the beauty that had made him pluck and destroy it. – Count Vronsky looking at Anna.


For those of us afraid to tell instead of showing in our writing, Tolstoy captured in 31 words what might have taken 10 pages had he decided to show instead of telling and the words he used are more powerful and captivating than had he done the other.  (Don’t you wish you could have written those words? I do.) And no one could ever accuse Tolstoy of being a madman about telling vs. showing or being economical with words either for that matter—he used page after page after page to show Levin adding up all his debts and liabilities and finding out he was hopelessley upside-down when he could have just said that Levin was living so far above his means there was no hope for escape.

Image Source Page: (Not the same setting as when the lassage was written.)

2 thoughts on “Replacing ten pages with 31 words

  1. The same with Levin’s harvesting chapters, or the election chapters later in the novel. As I read the book, I’m baffled by the details and very diverse story lines. But when I learned that it first came out as a serial spanning four years on a periodical, that really explained why, at least offer some answers for my queries.

    You’re most welcome to write another Anna K. post come Nov. 15, wrapping up your thoughts on the whole book, or maybe just the latter parts (5-8) to coincide with our Read-Along. Once you’ve posted, I’ll link your post to my blog. Of course, you can also join in our discussions in the comment section come Nov. 15. BTW, the movie will come out Nov. 16 in the U.S. You may have more reactions then.

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