Showing vs Telling

A lot of writers ask about this one. What is showing, and what is telling? This is a quick guide you can use on your finished manuscript. Let’s start:

Search for words like Scared, Hungry, Sad, Happy, in Love, Excited, Devastated, Cold, Angry.

Now if you find you have used these words to describe a feeling, consider deleting the word and replacing it with a description. For example:

I could tell she was scared.
Change to:
She went pale as she stared at me, eyes wide.

See the difference?

Now, search for ‘info dumps’ or description passages in your story. You should have a vague idea of where they would be. I found this on Writers Digest, and I couldn’t say it any better myself:

“Urlandia was a peaceful realm. Peasants and nobles alike lived in harmony despite the occasional bout with famine or invaders from the neighboring kingdom of Dum. There were heroes and cads, pirates and tavern wenches, and in all, their lives were good.

Your mind might have conjured up an image of a fantasy countryside with green meadows, vast forests, and castles with pennants flapping in the breeze, but how could you have seen “the occasional bouts with famine”? How could you see that their lives were good? You couldn’t. You weren’t shown any of this—you were simply told. And it probably left you feeling a little sleepy.”

Now, this can be a hard one for you to find in your document, which is why I suggest you look up ALL places where you are describing something. A new place, a new character, a creature, anything. Remember to stay with your main character. If they can’t see something or doesn’t know something, the reader can’t either.

As a general rule. When you write something, always look back at what you wrote and ask yourself – “Can I describe this better? Can I use different words to convey this?”

Telling is sometimes OK and necessary. This is just a guide for you to be able to tell the difference!

Good luck and…

Happy Writing!

Link from writers digest:

© Melina Wedin 2017


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