Show, don’t tell…this tells but doesn’t show

tumblr_lrou7kdrXX1qcmy8fo1_500Ironic, isn’t it that the writing rule ‘show, don’t tell’  tells you to show, without showing how. So that’s what I wanted to talk about in this post;

Showing character personality. People are emotional creatures, and when writing emotion, you shouldn’t tell the reader what the character feels. Instead, let it play out in their actions. An angry person slams doors, barks orders, sneers, and speaks abruptly. Nervous people tap fingers, bite fingernails, stutter, or shifts their eyes.

Showing setting. With describing scenes, telling that this is that and this is this doesn’t allow the reader to experience the scene. Using lyrical wording, you can show the scene as vibrant and alive. ‘Falling leaves’ turns into a ‘cascade of color shimmering in the rays of morning sun’. ‘Chirping birds’ transforms into a ‘symphony of music amid the dappled canopy of leaves above’.

Showing action. The use of powerful verbs offer a writer to show action. For instance, ‘he ran to the car’ shifts to ‘he raced to the car’. This is a bit simplistic but it illustrates using a stronger verb, one that provides the type of action not just the action itself, to show what the character is doing.

Showing dialog. Conversation incorporates so much more than the words we speak. In fact, our words can be the opposite of our meaning depending on tone, manner, and even expression. Dialog offers the writer to add much needed emotion while revealing much more about a character’s manner and emotional state.

Prompt: Try this exercise.

Use the freewriting exercises to write a scene that shows anger, sorrow, love, or joy, without using any words that describe the word.


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