As an editor at Extra Ink Edits, I help to improve others' writing. In my capacity as a writing teacher for college students, I also helped the students to strengthen their writing and make it more effective. One of the key ways that writers can write stronger is through showing not telling.
Show Not Tell. Show Not Tell. Show Not Tell.
Writers hear this phrase so much that it flows through the veins of writing blood or the ink of a writing pen. What exactly is show not tell and why is it important?
Simply put, show not tell means that writers should show what is happening rather than simply tell it. This typically applies when emotions are being communicated or details about the settings.
1) Show not tell is easily understandable in the context of setting-
He was hot.
The sun beat down upon his back, the sweat soaking through his cotton T-shirt.
2) In term of emotion, "show not tell" is less often applied to emotion, but is even more important.
He was sad.
Tears coursed down his face, stinging his wind-blown skin.
When emotions are stated, they're labels to one specific emotion. When showing is used it opens up the possibilities. Tears can be a symbol of frustration, anger, tiredness, guilt, shame, and a plethora of other emotions. Showing provides the reader with a dictionary, whereas telling gives the reader a single word.
One useful reason for telling instead of showing is when a character has a realization. Realizations are summaries of actions. A character will recount all the various things that have happened to him or her and may sum this up.
It hit her then. He loves me.
A host of actions could have illustrated this through showing. Instead, the character comes to a summary realization of the actions.
In summary, showing is most often the best choice for a richer writing experience. In some situations.such as realization, telling can work most powerfully.
My best to you all,