top of page

How Master the Art of Showing vs. Telling in Your Writing: 5 Best Practices.

Hello, fellow writers! Today, we're diving into one of the most crucial aspects of storytelling: showing versus telling. If you've ever been told to "show, don't tell," you're in the right place. It's all about using words that appeal to the five senses: touch, taste, smell, feel, and see. Notice I listed "see" last because it is overused. Don't fall into that trap.

Let's break it down into bite-sized pieces so you can level up your writing game.

1. Description and Imagery

Telling: The castle was old and majestic.

Showing: The castle's towering spires reached toward the sky, their ancient stones weathered by centuries of wind and rain. Ivy snaked up the walls, adding a touch of wild beauty to the imposing structure.

Why Showing is Better: By incorporating sensory details like the rough texture of the weathered stones and the sight of ivy climbing the walls, we immerse the reader in the scene, allowing them to experience the grandeur of the castle firsthand. Engaging the senses brings the description to life, painting a vivid picture in the reader's mind.

2. Character Emotions

Telling: Sarah was sad.

Showing: Tears welled up in Sarah's eyes as she gazed out the window, her shoulders slumping with the weight of her sorrow.

Why Showing is Better: Rather than simply stating Sarah's emotion, we use sensory cues such as tears welling up and the sight of her slumped shoulders to evoke empathy in the reader. By showing Sarah's physical reactions, we allow the reader to connect with her on a deeper level, making her sadness more tangible and relatable.

3. Action and Movement

Telling: John ran down the street.

Showing: John's sneakers pounded against the pavement as he sprinted down the street, his breath coming in ragged gasps as he dodged pedestrians and leaped over obstacles in his path.

Why Showing is Better: By describing John's actions in detail, we engage the reader's senses and create a sense of urgency and tension. The sound of his sneakers pounding against the pavement, the sight of him dodging pedestrians, and the feeling of his ragged breath all work together to immerse the reader in the action, making it more vivid and exciting.

4. Character Interaction

Telling: They argued about money.

Showing: Voices rose in a heated exchange as Sarah and John sat across from each other at the kitchen table. Sarah's hands clenched into fists, her knuckles turning white, as she accused John of squandering their savings on frivolous purchases.

Why Showing is Better: Instead of simply stating that Sarah and John argued, we use sensory details such as the rising voices and Sarah's clenched fists to convey the intensity of the argument. By showing their physical reactions, we allow the reader to feel the tension and emotion in the scene, making it more immersive and compelling.

5. Setting and Atmosphere

Telling: It was a gloomy day.

Showing: Dark clouds loomed overhead, casting a pall over the deserted streets below. The air was heavy with the promise of rain, and a chilly breeze sent shivers down Sarah's spine as she hurried home.

Why Showing is Better: By describing the setting in detail and engaging the reader's senses, we create a vivid and atmospheric scene. The sight of the dark clouds, the feeling of the chilly breeze, and the promise of rain in the air all work together to set the mood and immerse the reader in the world of the story.

As you can see, telling is boring, non-emotional and that's bad because readers want to be moved. So, remember, showing allows readers to experience the story firsthand, immersing them in the world you've created.

So next time you're tempted to tell, show instead. Your readers will thank you for it!

That's it for now, happy writing!



bottom of page