Back to Basics – Show don’t tell

You might have heard of the saying ‘Show don’t tell’ for writers. What does it actually mean? The past week I have been posting writing tips on Facebook, and it includes examples of ‘Show don’t tell.’ It means, you have to show the reader the character’s emotions and not tell them. You can do this by writing it in dialogue, action or emotion. Here are examples:

Instead of writing, ‘Julie was nervous’ you can write:

1. Dialogue.  “I…er…I…want a…pay rise,” Julie stuttered.

2. Action. Julie tapped her foot on the floor, waiting for her boss’ reply.

3. Emotion. She also bit her lip, then blinked. Her eyes widened when her boss said, “Yes.” (Don’t we all wish that it was as simple as that!).

I hope you can get the picture about showing the reader the character is nervous. She stuttered, she tapped her foot, bit her lip and blinked. Her eyes widened with shock at her boss’ reply.



One thought on “Back to Basics – Show don’t tell

  1. I detest the show, don’t tell! rule radically, and I refrain from reading any novel following it. Ergo, none of your propaganda will ever be able to deter me from violating that absurd rule religiuously and shamelessly.


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