What Does ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ Mean?

show dont tell

The writing challenge this month is all about ‘Show, Don’t Tell’, but what does it mean and how can you apply it to your writing?

Showing is all about creating visual imagery for your reader and making them feel as though they are there and connected with your main character. You can tell your reader a character has dark hair and pale skin, but how does your main character view this person? Connect your reader to you character’s mind by showing what they see and feel. Eg: A character who is attracted to these qualities might say, “Dark ebony hair framed her porcelain skin and her red lips were shaped like a cupid’s bow. It was like Snow White had stepped right out of her fairy tale.” A character who doesn’t find those features attractive may describe her in a different light, eg: “Her coal-coloured hair made her bloodless face appear whiter in contrast as though she were one of the undead. The only colour on her face was on her lips, which were caked in red lipstick in the manner of a lady of the night.”

Showing vs. Telling

Here are some more examples of the difference between telling and showing.

Telling: It was a hot day.

Showing: The sun blazed in the sky. Sweat ran down my forehead. The jingle of the ice-cream cart’s bell called to me.

Telling: A tall man.

Showing: The man’s head brushed the top of the door frame as he walked through. I craned my neck to look up at his face.

Further Reading

For a more in-depth look at showing vs. telling and further examples, you can check out these previous posts I have written on the topic.

My Best Advice for Other Aspiring Writers 

This post discusses:

–          Using the five senses.

–          Eliminating ‘was’.

–          Interweaving description into your story.

Show, Don’t Tell 

This post gives a more in-depth explanation of ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ with an example ‘showing’ paragraph like the one I want you to attempt for this month’s challenge.

Keep your eye out for the challenge sharing post at the end of this week. If you’re not subscribed, you can sign up for free (top left-hand side of blog) and you will get an email notification when the post goes live.

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