Showing Vs. Telling

(I will be sharing some different areas of writing a good compelling story that I learned from my Fiction writing class I took at College of DuPage last year.)

“You’ve all heard this ‘rule’ in one form or another, most commonly as the cliché “Show, don’t tell.” To engage readers, stories appeal to the emotions and the senses, and this happens by showing how characters act and interact. Readers enjoy discovering what the characters of a story are about as they are shown what is happening. “ Showing” creates a fictional reality where readers may lose themselves, but there is a place for telling too. It depends upon the effect you want to create for and/or in your reader.”

“Even though this section comes from the middle of the story, a reader can get a strong image of the characters and “see” their relationship and their environment, and immediately gets pulled into the story.”

“Showing involves the reader on a visceral level, and stresses action. It doesn’t automatically mean that you are stressing action if all the character does is talk about acting. For example, a character talking about climbing K-2: “We made the final assault about two in the afternoon and after several hours of struggling in the snow and ice, we were exhausted and turned back.” How exciting is that? You understand what happened, but you don’t see it, feel it,experience it.”

“One basic rule of thumb with showing vs telling; if there is something the reader absolutely needs to understand, and which can’t be shown, tell them. Another use of telling rather than showing is when there is information the characters are exchanging but which the reader is already aware of, you summarize by telling.”


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