Life Coach Magazine

Show Vs. Tell

By Writerinterrupted @writerinterrupt

Here’s a little excerpt on “Showing vs. Telling”  from my new novel writing workbook.

Readers want to be transported to another world and to experience the characters thoughts, actions, and emotions. If you don’t hook your readers (draw them into the story so they can’t escape,) they may get bored and not care about your character or what happens to her. When it comes to hooking your reader it’s important to avoid telling them what’s happening by a lot of narrative (where your main character sits and ponders what’s going on…) To hook your reader, you want to get to the action fast. You want to engage them through emotions in the story. The best way to involve them is to show them what’s happening!

So how do you know if you’re showing instead of telling? The best way to illustrate this is with emotion. Instead of telling the reader “he was angry,” show what anger looks like.

He stomped his feet and huffed off.
He slammed the table with his fist.

Instead of telling the reader “she was happy,” show it.

Her smile was as wide as the Grand Canyon.

How would you show sad?

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she hugged the pillow close to her chest.

What about this sentence? She was so sad she thought she might die.

Not bad, but it’s still telling. Remember what I taught about passive vs. active writing? Using passive words is lazy writing. Most telling uses helping verbs and in the sentence you will find the name of the emotion.

Your turn: Go to your WIP. Find where you name the emotion (sad, happy, angry,) then try to show it instead. If you’re finding it hard to show/describe the emotion this is where you’ll have to dig deep into your own experience.

You may not have had the same experience as your main character, but you have had the same emotions. Happy, sad, angry, jealous, lonely, scared are universal feeling. You just need to ask yourself “what do I do when I’m sad? How do I feel (what happens in my body) when I’m angry.” Then use your words to paint a picture so the readers can feel what you want them to feel.

Look for my Release the Novel in You workbook in June 2016!


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