Show, Don’t Tell.

You may have heard the rule ‘show, don’t tell,’ when it comes to writing.

What do they mean by ‘show, don’t tell?’ Showing, not telling is a technique that enables the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the authors summarisation / description.

“SHOW THE READERS THROUGH YOUR WORDS WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO SEE, DON’T JUST TELL THEM ABOUT IT.”

Ban these words if you can: thinks, knows, understands, realises, believes, wants, remembers, imagines, desires, as author of Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk did

Use dialogue. This reveals a lot about the character, emotion and mood.

However, a narrative can show some legitimate telling, as a novel would be extremely long otherwise. You don’t want to describe every part of every building, or scene.

Here are some examples:

She clearly fancied him.

Instead use – As he walked into the room, her heart thudded frantically in her chest. She felt the blush spread up her chest, into her cheeks, and silently prayed that he didn’t notice.

The house was a mess and in poor condition.

Instead use – As soon as she stepped into the apartment, a damp smell lingered in the air. Her eyes took in the room – toys strewn over the floor, half eaten fruit, and lipstick stained glasses on the table. She couldn’t help but notice the wallpaper curling off the walls, and the cracked floor tiles.

She was scared of him.

Instead use – She sank further in her seat, her heart racing wildly in her chest, her hands shaking ever so slightly. Her eyes cast down to the floor, concentrating on the patterns on the carpet. Anything, but on him. As his shadow loomed over her, she pressed her lips tightly together to silence any cries.

Please share your own examples. 

 

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