Show, don’t tell!

Any writer worth their salt will tell you how important it is to show, not tell, especially when you are writing a work of fiction. You’ve probably heard it at many creative writing workshops and yet, when you’re writing, you don’t know how to make sure you’re showing and not telling. Hmm?

I won’t say I have this in the bag completely because I’m still learning the process of writing. But there are a few things I do know after all this writing I’ve done. So, here I go, sharing my gyan once again.


1. Crackling dialogue can do what sentences and sentences of portraying your characters feelings can’t. If you’re character is going through something, it’s a good idea to use dialogue to showcase it. Sometimes banter, sometimes a serious conversation and sometimes even repartee can reveal your characters innermost flaws or feelings, as the case may be.


2. Sometimes how your character reacts to a situation shows your readers all that you want to convey. So instead of writing a scene where you want to tell your readers that something is happening, create a situation that speaks for itself. How your character reacts to it will tell the reader a whole lot without actually telling them. Here’s an example from my own work. Ahem.


Hope that explains what I mean!



Dialogue has its place when it comes to showing something to your readers but what’s that old cliche about actions speaking louder than words? That holds true. If you make your characters react to something, or act on something, you can reveal a facet of their personality or their innermost feelings without actually spelling it out. And for that, we come to tip no. 4.



Reader experience as you well know is subjective. What I might deduce from a scene may not be what you deduce and that’s the beauty of a well written piece because it’s open to interpretation. This is exactly why showing is more important than telling. But how does one do it? By following tip no. 3. Your characters are like puppets (most of the time) and they will do or say what you want. It’s up to you to ensure that you do the right thing.



Sometimes atmosphere shows things best. The right atmosphere or setting can convey so much to your readers. All you need to do is to ensure you don’t go overboard with descriptions. That is a real danger, worthy of another give writing tips post. But do remember that sometimes atmosphere can be the best thing about a scene or chapter. You can often make your characters emotions stand out in contrast with the atmosphere of the moment.

I hope these writing tips are helpful! Do tweet to me at andaleebwajid and start a conversation if you want to discuss writing further.

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