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Put a positive spin on your writing day.

Judith Evicci, Technical, Creative Nonfiction and Content Writer

When to Show

Showing means, giving the details, not the summary of the topic.

For instance, if you say, "He was sick today,", that is telling/summarizing.

Instead, if you say, "This morning, as he walked to the car, the juices flowed up from his stomach and made his mouth water. Finally, too dizzy to walk on, he stopped and emptied the green bile onto the hot summer pavement.." Now, that's showing!

In my experience, when the definition of "showing is given, it is given in the summary form, and therefore, it is hard to understand. At least it was for me. I needed an example.

When to "Tell"

The examples marked with an "X" mean that Telling is permitted.  The unmarked items require Showing rather than Telling:

Dramatize a Scene when,

Facts are boring

Watch a character in Action

Listen to the Dialogue

Bring Characters to Life

X Narrative Summary

X Vary the rhythm & texture

X Story has repetitive action

X Plot development is not important enough to justify a scene.

X Plot Short Cut

X Reader is tired from too much showing

X Takes less space

Very time consuming information - easier to show.

X Balance Action vs. Summarization

X Consider rhythm, pace and Tone

Unveil the Character by Showing

X e.g. Busy Body Neighbor: State that she is nosy.

Reader forgets he is reading

Reader gets to know the characters

X Writing is more interesting when writer tells

X Constant Showing undermines important scenes.

e.g. Lead has an argument with Boss

X e.g. Lead drove to his girl friends

X Action with nothing important happening

Write it first, then polish it up.


The Thinker


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