Show vs. Tell

Showing instead of telling helps you create a picture in the reader’s mind. It also helps you get away from the repetition of empty words, such as weird, really neat, beautiful, wonderful, and boring.


Telling: The girls were excited.

Showing: The girls held tight to each other in a mock effort to contain themselves. Arms flailed upward and giggles and screams filled the arena as the pop star bounded onto the stage.

Telling: The room was vacant.

Showing: Cob webs flowed freely in the air as the open door brought light to the peeling paint on the walls. The new air gave life to a stuffiness that entrapped the room. Faded and torn white sheets covered once new furniture now drowning in dust.

Telling: Sam was a great pitcher.

Showing: The ball shot from Sam’s hand as if it had been fired from a cannon. The batter steadied himself for the hit as the ball blazed toward him. “Strike three!” the umpire called. Sam’s fast-ball was so hot the batter never had a chance.

Telling: Emma was sad.

Showing: Tears rolled down Emma’s cheeks and splashed onto her new party dress.

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