09
Feb
11

Reguritating Show not Tell

Ever stumble over showing and not telling, then you’re not the only one.  Each fiction writer has at one point or another stumbled.  At one point my critique partners and I struggled to  wrap our brains around this.  We searched the internet, googled show not tell and listened to multiple lectures stressing show and not tell. You can find hundreds of examples.  But here I’ll break it down short and sweet.  Ever watch an awesome movie, can’t pull yourself away from the plot, the characters… their mannerisms?

Well, make your story that way. Don’t tell your audience what your characters are doing or feeling. Show them. Make them feel and discovery the story with you. They read for the joy, the illusion, to enter the Wonderland of imagination. We all strive to get back to imagination, so give it to them. 

 Don’t just tell your audience:  Joe Smoe walked across the road in a fit of rage.

Show them: Joe slung his pillow across the room “4:00 in the damn morning.” Yanking his pj bottoms up, he stalk out of the front door.  This is the last time. He thought. People milled about the yards, shouting, and vomiting in the hedges.  “Damn noise, People are trying to sleep. I’m trying to sleep,” He muttered.  A car skidded to a stop, horn blazing as he stepped into the road never taking his eyes off the prize. That damn stereo system. He stomped up the steps, grabbed the baseball bat from the porch, weaved through the people who laughed and party. No one stopped him as he strolled through the open front door, and took the baseball bat to the speakers that pounded out a beat from hell.

Sometimes, showing is just a gesture, arched brow, description of what the character’s face is doing.  Their actions, movements.  Bring your story alive, make them feel the emotions.  That’s what showing is.  Look at your scenes, in editing, if they seem flat, bring them to life.  Always think, how can I make this scene breath. And show it, dramatize it, don’t simply tell, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t read books if I don’t feel them.

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2 Responses to “Reguritating Show not Tell”


  1. 1 SandySays1
    February 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Great advice….up to the point a sequence sounds contrived.


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