Show, Don’t Tell

Good morning lovely writers! I hope everyone is having a fantastic week and enjoying the writing for Week 4’s challenge.

Last week I wrote about how your feelings as a writer are translated to your readers through your writing. Today I want to ask you about how your characters feel and how you show their emotions in your writing.

One of the biggest or most important writing rules that I have found is the SHOW, DON’T TELL rule.

Telling: making a statement about your character. Example: “She was happy about that.”

Showing: describing character reactions/explaining thoughts/conveying your message through something tangible/etc. Example: “The grin stretched across her face and unicorns and butterflies danced in her mind.”

If your character is sad, you can say they are sad but simply saying that they are sad does not give your reader a complete picture or complete understanding of the sadness. So today I encourage you to think about how you SHOW things to your reader. How do you show that sadness or happiness? How do you choose which details are important, which images or plot devices do you emphasize to convey your characters’ feelings?

Please share your thoughts in the comments and keep on keeping on!


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Week 4’s Topic Post and guidelines are here. You have until Monday, August 31, 11:45 EDT to submit your work for the last contest of August.

Happy Writing!


About 409writinglife

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3 Responses to Show, Don’t Tell

  1. Pingback: Scuppernongs, Second Wives, and Southern Lives – A Book Review | Brigit's Flame Writing Community

  2. t.s.wright says:

    Typically, I find the advice on the internet to “show, don’t tell” irritating for its lack of examples. I like your unicorn and butterflies 🙂
    I have a tool that helps me think along these lines.
    I have the Kindle version, but I bought mine directly from the developers ( so I received some supplemental .pdfs that expand the original thesaurus. I usually employ it during my first pass edit. I’ll find some key places where my characters really need some energy, find the applicable section of the thesaurus and mull over the examples. I don’t necessarily use them verbatim, but it gets me thinking about body language and reaction.

    Liked by 1 person

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