The Writers Circle: Show, Don’t Tell

One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

“Show, don’t tell.”  Writers give and receive that advice all the time, yet we rarely hear advice as to how best to accomplish this. Today let’s discuss the hallmarks of “showing” and how these differ from “telling”.  What are some of the techniques you employ in your own writing which you feel help you to achieve success with this standard piece of advice?


Discuss this topic here in the comments or head on over to the forums to start or engage in a more thorough discussion.


3 thoughts on “The Writers Circle: Show, Don’t Tell

  1. One of my favorites (which I’m still struggling with) is to use things like how characters dress, setting to show-not-tell the plot, motivations, actions.

  2. This is one of the more difficult things to wrap our brains around while writing and likely one of the more challenging things to find a good example to share. I try to look for emotions in my writing. For example every time I write something like, “He was angry,” I go back and ask how can I show that. I might rewrite the line something like, “He slammed the car door and yelled at the other driver.” Simple, but not easy.

  3. Another way to emphasize showing, is by removing filter words. For instance, instead of writing something like “she heard the distant howl” we could write “the wolf/dog/beast howled in the distance.” The change is may seem minor, even negligible to a certain extent, but the second phrase is more direct and is more descriptive. Another example is “he could see the fire raging”. Instead we can write “The fire raged.” Some filter words are: to sound (like), to see, to consider, to hear, to note, to think, to notice, to wonder, to realise, to look, to seem, to feel (like), can, be able to, to know.

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