Show And Tell

Firstly, this post has to begin with an apology of sorts, because I haven’t been updating this like I meant to. I’ve been working on my book (Mage) which has only seven chapters left and is taking up a lot of my time because I’m ready to finish it. I’ve also been reminded that school somehow manages to take up time before it even starts. Sometimes finding the time to write is a challenge – I’m positive if you feel like you don’t have the time to write, you’re not alone. Adults are always complaining about working around their family’s schedules and their jobs, and as a teenager I’ve found school to be the number one thing that makes writing a struggle. So congratulations to you if you’ve found time to write despite all of this. Keep it up. 

I wanted to talk about something that is probably one of the first things you’ve ever heard if you’re a writer. Show, don’t tell.  It took me a while to actually start to put this advice to use. It seems like simple advice, but I’ve found it’s something easier said than done. Eliminate the word feel from your writing. This goes especially for a first person POV. 

Instead of having your character say s/he feels dizzy, have them reach out for the wall (or other nearby object) to steady them. Instead of telling the reader your character feels nervous, have them bite their nails or mess with their hair (probably a girl for that one) or keep them glancing at the clock. As the lovely quote from Anton Chekhov says, Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.  Make an effort in your writing to eliminate words that might distance your characters from your reader.

Try to describe feelings. Everyone knows how they feel when they’re angry, but show your reader that your character is angry by describing them. Don’t forget that people respond to different emotions differently. Stress might make one character quiet, while another can’t stop talking or even breaks into tears. 

What is one of your favourite descriptive passages in a novel/short story?


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