Posted by: anitanolan | October 29, 2009

Show, Don’t Tell: Ways to Show

For the most part, showing is the preferred way of writing fiction.   Here are a couple of ways to “show” your writing.

Use Dialogue:

Dialogue allows the reader to experience the scene as if they’re really in it.  Dialogue can show character traits (you don’t need to tell the reader a character is mean if he calls other kids names or says mean things) and it can show what a character is thinking and feeling.

Use the five senses:

If your reader can see, hear, taste, smell and touch the world you’ve created, it makes it real to them.  Sight is the sense most commonly used when writing, but try to work in the other senses as well.  Don’t just summarize a setting, use the five senses to make it come alive.

More “showing” tips tomorrow



  1. Great tips! One point- I see some writing where showing isn’t appropriate and the result is a “contrived” passage. Eg. The inner thoughts of an introverted character (the author made great pains to develop his lack of emotional display) in a situation where he’s isolated, suddenly going through hand gyrations, talking to himself, etc., etc. it achieves one thing- unintended laughter. And no he wasn’t trying to indicate the man was going insane. Some places you have to resort to narrative though it may not be the “in” thing.

    • Thanks for the comment, Sandy


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