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Showing Versus Telling in Creative Writing

 Showing Versus Telling

The above is a writing rule I learned from my creative writing course at All About Writing. Before I joined the course, I had no clue about the writing rules.  Even after the course, I'm not sure I grasped all the rules, or grasping and practising are two different things. 

The template in the post introduces the difference between telling and showing. 

What is telling in writing? 

As I know it, Telling is an easy method.  

You create a scene, and at some point, your character is petrified.  You can use adjectives like angry, troubled, upset, and so on, the reason many of us prefer it. 

What is showing?

 To show is an effort; we should show the character's reactions on the face, body, voice, and explain the surroundings, the smell, the sound.  Get the reader to engage with all senses for the emotional connection, do not come naturally, need to practise.   

It brings specific details about his facial expressions, body language and voice modulations.  To show anger, you detail how his eyes went red shot, his mouth quirked in disgust, he stamped on the floor etc.

Why show gets the upper hand over telling?

You, as a reader, like reading stories with characters resonating with you emotionally.  So, as a writer, you should make your characters interesting, getting the readers emotionally connected to them. And showing the situations or the settings with details.  There is no novelty in writing your character is angry, show his mood and reactions.   

Anger is always a surface reaction to underlying problems like feeling afraid, confused, hurt, jealous, embarrassed, defeated, hopeless, rejected, infuriated, etc. Also, some express anger differently; some passively get withdrawn, others aggressively lash out.   We show it through the body language going silent, shouting, beating, staring at others, clenching fists, calling names etc.  

The theory part is easy in reading, not in practising. It is challenging.  Before joining the course, I took writing as an effortless exercise, a master of pen and paper. If you take creative writing seriously, it's worth knowing the writing rules as a rule of thumb, and the more you do it, the more you realise its beauty.  You can get lessons on it from the net. Just google search. 


A few tips for practising showing, not telling:

1. Make your character observe, see, smell, touch, and listen to, then write about it without using those words.  Using senses, you force your characters to interact with the environment you're showing. 

2. The more you specify in detailing your descriptions and actions, the easier it is to show. Make your writing stronger, images clearer to force your reader to engage mentally and emotionally.  

3. Dialogue: The moment you start using dialogue in your writing, your characters start talking, you're showing. It becomes an action scene where things happen and move. And you must make them interact with the settings and engage your readers. 

Wish everybody who read this good practice in showing.

This post 7 is part of blog chatter Half Marathon.


  1. Show don't tell is a wonderful way to express through action and words.
    Nice post!

    1. That is wonderful and engaing and difficult to work out. Thank you :)

  2. I gained a new insight in creative writing today. Thanks for this enlightenment.

  3. Replies
    1. Happy to know, you find it helpful, thank you for reading it :)


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