One of the most important parts of writing a good story is showing, not telling. This can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s essential if you want to engage your readers and make them feel like they’re part of the story.
I’ll never forget joining a writing critique group and receiving feedback from more experienced writers about the first draft of my novel Awakened. Most of their recommendations highlighted areas where I should “show” and not “tell.” Showing was a huge struggle because telling the story described what happened. It doesn’t. I had to stretch my thinking and practice painting the picture. Have you ever read stories that made you feel like you were there? If so, it’s because the author mastered the art of showing!
Here are some tips on how to show and not tell in your writing.
First, try to use sensory details to create a vivid picture in your reader’s mind. Instead of telling your reader that it’s hot outside, describe the way the sun beats down on the pavement and the sweat that drips down your character’s back. This will allow your reader to feel the heat for themselves and make the story more immersive.
Next, use dialogue to reveal character traits and emotions. Instead of telling your reader that your character is angry, have them yell or snap at someone. This will show your reader that your character is angry without having to explicitly state it.
Another way to show instead of tell is to use action and description to reveal your character’s thoughts and feelings. Instead of telling your reader that your character is nervous, describe the way their hands shake or the way their heart races. This will allow your reader to feel the character’s anxiety for themselves and make the story more engaging.
Finally, try to avoid using adverbs to describe your character’s emotions or actions. Instead of saying that your character spoke angrily, describe the tone of their voice or the way they slammed their fist on the table. This will show your reader that your character is angry without having to tell them.
Showing instead of telling is an essential part of writing a good story. By using sensory details, dialogue, action, and description, you can engage your readers and make them feel like they’re part of the story. With practice, you can master this skill and take your writing to the next level.