It’s barely above 25 degrees this morning here in Georgia. So, burr… It makes my coffee that much better, if that’s even possible. Anyhoo, today we’re talking Show, Don’t Tell… What? Yes, that’s I said. So here goes!
Have you ever read a book and you felt like you were there? Why? Because the writer put into words what the character was seeing. Of course sometimes in our own imagination, we see the world the writer creates. But, it’s important for a writer to let us see their world that is being created with words. Help the reader take the journey with you. And as a writer, you know what I’m talking about. We see the story in our head, but the reader doesn’t unless we let them in on the whole thing, not just the words.
What do I mean? Well, if your character walks out and it’s bitterly cold, then you want your reader to shiver. But how do you do that? Let’s go through an example:
Telling: Rose walked outside and it was cold. She got the mail, then went back to the house to warm up. (Ok, so here in this example, the writer is telling you it’s cold outside, but you don’t know how cold or anything further than it’s cold. This would work, but let’s try this again.)
Showing: Rose opened the door to an artic blast hitting her as she stepped outside. The temperature had dropped to well below freezing and the wind seemed to slice through her thin coat. The walk to the mailbox was bone chilling as she struggled to keep her jacket tightly around her. When she turned to go back to the house, she looked forward to the crackling fire that was waiting for her. The moment she shut the door, leaving the bitter cold outside, the warmth of the fire seem to melt the ice from her as she held up her hands to give them a good thaw. (Now, you feel the cold, the wind, and the characters reaction to those elements. Not to mention, it was more wordy so you made more of a punch. See the difference.)
So, with that, think about how you express things in your writing. The reader doesn’t know the wall is red until you tell them. But remember, tell them the shade red, how the red makes the character feel, etc. Get it. Now, go out there and write up a storm, literally.
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…