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  • Writer's pictureMelanie B. Horev

How to show don't tell: 10 examples

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

So in all honesty, I did not know what this was before I started the writing process. I watched YouTube videos, and I studied and I trained and I tried. Then I failed, over and over again.

Then I took a break and tried again.

After a while I got more skilled. I still pretty much suck at this, but I am not giving up. I am sure I will succeed one day, and it is getting more natural for me everyday I write.

Now what is 'show don't tell' in the world of writers? I will get to in a second.

First, don't despair if you don't know, I still managed most of my first draft without knowing. Aren't you embarrassed by that? Well thanks for asking, yes, yes I am. I was lacking a lot of skills when I started, I still do, but now i am lacking one skill less.

Now let's get to the 'show don't tell, what is it?

It is showing emotions to the reader in form of mental images, instead of telling the reader how the character is feeling. For example:

1) Mirabella was visibly angry.

Show don't tell example:

Mirabella's cheeks started to flush bright red, her jaw clenching in a rhythmical motion.

2) Molly happily accepted the invitation.

Show don't tell example:

Molly jumped up and down and clapped her hands ripping the invitation from her mother's hand.

3) Hank delivered the news somberly.

Show don't tell example:

Hank's shoulders sank while he told them the news.

4) The crowd was sad.

Show don't tell example:

The crowd collectively gathered a stream at their feet flowing from their eyes to the ground.

5) Herbert left the place in a hurry.

Show don't tell example:

Herbert bolted towards the door leaving his shadow behind him.

6) Her mom looked at her curiously.

Show don't tell example:

Her mom opened her eyes widely leaning in closer to hear.

7) The boy was frightened.

Show don't tell example:

The boy shivered and held his arms close to his body, eyes opened wide.

8) I was scared.

Show don't tell example:

Chills ran down my spine as I glanced around the room.

9) Tom was nervous.

Show don't tell example:

Tom fidgeted with his keys while keeping his eyes on the ground.

10) The wizard was going mad.

Show don't tell example:

She watched as the wizard jumped around in circles, calling out names in a foreign sounding language waving his hands up towards the sky.

I hope this will help some of you with showing and not telling. The struggle is most definitely real. Good luck all writers out there. Let me know if you find it easy or hard?

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