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  • Writer's pictureRachel Demeter

Mastering the Art of "Show, Don't Tell" in Your Writing

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Tyrion and Tywin Lannister

When it comes to crafting engaging and immersive storytelling, one of the most frequently heard pieces of advice is "show, don't tell." This simple yet profound concept lies at the heart of effective storytelling. It's what enables writers to transport readers into the worlds they create. Whether you're crafting a novel or a short story, mastering the art of "show, don't tell" can elevate your writing from flat to compelling.

Why Mastering the Art of "Show, Don't Tell" is Critical

At its core, "show, don't tell" is about allowing readers to experience a story through vivid sensory details, actions, dialogue, and emotions, rather than outright telling them what's happening or how characters feel. When you show, you paint a picture with words, engaging the reader's imagination and letting them draw their own conclusions. This not only creates a more immersive reading experience but also fosters a deeper connection between the reader and the characters or situations.

Tips for Incorporating "Show, Don't Tell" into Your Writing:

  1. Use Sensory Details: Engage your readers' senses by describing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. Instead of saying "It was a rainy day," show the reader by describing "The rain tapped on the windowpane like impatient fingertips."

  2. Employ Strong Verbs and Adjectives: Choose powerful verbs and descriptive adjectives that evoke imagery and emotions. Instead of "walked slowly," you might write "ambled" or "sauntered."

  3. Let Characters' Actions Speak: Instead of directly stating a character's emotions, reveal them through their actions. For instance, instead of saying "She was nervous," show it with "She twisted the hem of her dress between her trembling fingers." One of my favorite shows is Game of Thrones. Tyrion's conflicted relationship with his father could have easily been told during one of Tyrion's drunken stupors; instead, we learn about their relationship and watch over several seasons as the tension intensifies before reaching a breaking point.

  4. Use Dialogue to Reveal Character and Conflict: Conversations between characters can reveal personality traits, relationships, and conflicts. Instead of narrating a character's arrogance, let them display it in their speech and interactions.

  5. Show Emotions through Body Language: Physical cues like facial expressions, body posture, and gestures can communicate emotions effectively. A clenched jaw, a furrowed brow, or a triumphant fist pump can convey feelings more powerfully than just stating them outright.

  6. Create Scenes and Settings: Instead of summarizing events, create scenes that allow readers to witness actions as they unfold. This draws them into the moment and lets them experience the story alongside the characters.

  7. Immerse Readers in the Setting: Describe the environment in a way that transports readers into the scene. Whether it's a bustling city street or a serene countryside, make readers feel like they're there. Use POV grounding exercises to help "flat" scenes come to life.

  8. Allow Readers to Interpret: Give readers room to interpret the emotions and motivations of characters. Show enough to guide them but leave space for their imagination to work.

Happy writing!

About Me

I write evocative and action-packed historical romance novels. Check out my books on Amazon. 🥰

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