Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Show Don't Tell

As writers, we’ve undoubtedly heard “show don’t tell” countless times. Right? So, just how do we show? By describing the scene to the reader, rather than informing them what is there.

Involve the reader’s senses. Informing readers ‘the food is tasty’ or ‘the young rabbit was scared’ is flat writing. Describing the tasty food or the scared rabbit is showing:

1. The ripe, sun-warmed cherry tomatoes exploded in my mouth making my jaws pucker.
2. I found a trembling, injured bunny beneath the dewy morning glories.

This involves the reader and they become part of the scene.

Show things in the scene that aren’t written in the words. I didn’t have to tell you the rabbit was young and scared. I showed you the rabbit was young [bunny] and scared [trembling].

As another example (and for fun creativity) I asked my fellow wenches to join me in re-creating the following flat scene by showing. Please join us in the comments section by putting your own spin on the facts—without changing them.

I climbed the tree and looked over the fence into Neal’s back yard. My suspicions were correct. Molly was there. She was in the pool, swimming naked. Neal was smiling. As my heart broke, they laughed. It was cold outside, but neither seemed affected by the mountain air. Actually, things were getting downright steamy. Just when I thought my night couldn’t get any worse, my spying antics were exposed when my cell phone rang loudly. I was mortified.


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