Show, Don’t Tell
In writing, especially descriptive writing, it is very important to show the reader what’s happening rather than telling him or her what’s happening. By showing, we allow the reader to experience the story through their own imagination instead of through just our words. But what does “Show, Don’t Tell” really mean? Well, instead of telling you, I’ll show you!
Telling: Jasper was happy because he finished all of his work.
Showing: Jasper’s cheeks were spread wide as he exhaled a large sigh. He was sitting in the middle of his bed with his computer on his lap and a storm of loose papers surrounding him. Relaxing both his muscles and his mind, he swept all of the now unneeded papers on to the ground. Maintaining his satisfied grin, he stretched his body out horizontally and buried his face in his pillow.
Telling: Jacob thought his father’s decision to let Will sit in the front was extremely unfair.
Showing: The boys stood beside the car eagerly awaiting their father’s arrival. A few seconds earlier, Jacob had yelled, “Dibs!” as the brothers were approaching their family van. Will was unfazed though, as he calmly watched their father, Marcel, walk up to the car and unlock the doors. Jacob hopped in the front seat as quickly as he could. Marcel reacted, “Come on now, you know you have to sit in the back, you’re not old enough yet.” Jacob stared back at his father with disbelief, but his father’s face remained perfectly still. After a long three seconds, Jacob forcefully climbed into the back of the van where he sat with his arms crossed. He shook his head as he muttered indistinguishable words under his breath.
Now You Try!!!
Make these sentences show instead of tell. Remember, you will often need multiple sentences to show what is conveyed in one “tell” sentence (see examples).
1. Monica was very excited when she got her acceptance letter.
2. Marcus sadly walked back to his room because his parents were arguing.
3. Eric’s hunger slowly grew until lunchtime.
4. Ajayne was appalled by his teacher’s lack of respect.
5. Blair, who is very passionate, told his best friend to always try his best.
6. Sibora has a terrible itch on her back that she cannot reach.
7. Sophie secretly had a crush on Zach.
8. Leo loves to play the guitar.
9. Issey tried to get his mother’s attention.
10. Trinity is not bothered by the bully’s mean jokes.