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Three quick examples of the classic writing advice Show Don’t Tell

by May 20, 2014On Writing: Craft and Commiseration0 comments

Show and Tell 17

Show and Tell (Photo credit: musgrave_archive)

I was having an email chat with a friend about the classic writing advice to show, not tell, and I wrote up three super quick examples of it. And then I thought, heck, since I took the time to write them, maybe I ought to just share them here too in case anyone else might find them helpful. So, here you go. Here’s show, don’t tell in action:

Tell: Karen was really pissed that she had to make dinner.
Show: Karen stormed over to the fridge and yanked it open. The slab of frozen meat clunked onto the counter top and she took delight in stabbing it a few times with a knife.

Tell: It was a rainy day.
Show: Dark clouds billowed overhead, spilling cold drops onto the miserable commuters.

Tell: Hillary couldn’t think of another example.
Show: Hillary paused, her fingers hovering over the keyboard. Two examples was enough, right? Surely, she didn’t really need a third one.

That’s all there is to it. Anytime you just straight up say what is happening in your narrative, instead change it to action where the audience gets it without having it spelled out.

Of course, there’s always moments when you may want to tell instead of show for a specific reason but that’s the gist of it.

Feel free to share your own examples below!


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Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.


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