Day 88: Telling vs. Showing

One of the biggest pieces of advice, adages, whatever, that a writer hears is, “Show, don’t tell.” It’s vague advice. I can only ever grasp it myself in examples. Like,

Telling: Meg was hot and tired. 

Show: Meg brushed her hair back from her sweaty forehead. She took another step and collapsed to the ground in a heap.

I find I do a lot of telling versus showing in my first drafts, and not just in describing how someone’s feeling, but also in describing an event after the fact. For example, the scene I wrote the other night started by my MC stating in one sentence how she felt long after the event. Then I double-spaced and wrote about how she felt right after the event. Then finally I double-spaced again, and let her relate the event itself.

It was kind of like having 1st, 2nd, and 3rd drafts rolled together. Kind of.

The third section – the event – was much more powerful than that first sentence explaining her reaction long after the event happened. And this is a duh, but it’s much more powerful because she’s telling it as it’s happening: she’s showing you, not telling. 

It’s so much harder to show than tell; if it wasn’t, everyone would do it and do it on the first try. But it’s a fun challenge (yes, even when it’s a sucky scene – it’s still a challenge).

I want to come back to showing vs. telling at some point but for now I’ll just say, Good night. Oh and I got out 81 words. More tomorrow!

About thewritingblues

I'm a writer working on a YA dystopian novel and blogging on my progress - or lack thereof - and other cool writing stuff.
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