Thoughts on “Show, don’t tell” tip

"Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." ~Anton Chekhov

One of the important tips you find for writers is the ‘show, don’t tell’ advice. This means you don’t beat your readers over the head with facts and explanations as much as revealing the story through dialog, action, and description that flows with poetic phrase.

I remember once critiquing a story from a new writer that constantly stated the fact the main character was beautiful. Not only did this jar me out of the story, I felt insulted that I had to be told her beauty as fact instead of determining for myself since beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. Oddly the story spoke very little of this character’s appearance. I had to take it on faith.

Whatever emotion you hope to evoke from your readers should come naturally, not forced through statements. I offer the reader the description only in the hope they consider the character attractive, or not. If you want to illustrate fear, show the reader fear through the action, heart racing, and sweat-producing scenes of description. You want readers to pulled into the story, living it with the character, losing themselves in another world.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Thoughts on “Show, don’t tell” tip

  1. I remember being told ‘show, don’t tell’ in English lessons in school, and now my daughter’s being told the same. It’s nice that some things remain the same!

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