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The Basics of Showing Vs. Telling For Beginners

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Sun Dec 06, 2020 9:18 pm
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Purple67 says...

A lot of times, we often want to improve our writing. And it's pretty tedious. And you might ask, what can I do to improve my prose?

One thing, and while there are many things you can do to improve it, there is one thing I think is useful.

Showing. Just showing.

Now, what is showing, and all that jazz we are talking about today?

Showing is a way to give description and put our readers into the experience. And when I mean experience is to make our readers feel like they're in a movie, not a book.

And showing is just that.

Now telling, while not always bad, may disconnect the reader from the experience.

Here's an example of telling.

"She was angry."

Now while it's straightforward and not confusing, it's kinda bland.

Here's what we could do to fix it.
- We could add description.
-We could add emotion.
Or we could use more powerful words.

Try that sentence with showing!

See? it's more powerful!

Now that you mastered the art of showing, here are some examples...
"I once had a garden. I can remember the smell of the turned earth, the plump shapes of bulbs held in the hands, fullness, the dry rustle of seeds through the fingers. Time could pass more swiftly that way. Sometimes the Commander’s Wife has a chair brought out, and just sits in it, in her garden. From a distance it looks like peace." - An excerpt from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

"My morning breath warmed the pillow, and I changed the subject in my mind. Today was not a day for second-guessing or regret, it was a day for doing. Downstairs, I could hear the return of a long-lost sound: Amy making breakfast. Banging wooden cupboards (rump-thump!), rattling containers of tin and glass (ding-ring!), shuffling and sorting a collection of metal pots and iron pans (ruzz-shuzz!). A culinary orchestra tuning up, clattering vigorously toward the finale." - An excerpt from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Thanks for reading!

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Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:46 pm
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Magebird says...

This is a really good article! I love how you included examples for both showing and telling, as well as included this important aspect of showing vs. telling:

Now telling, while not always bad, may disconnect the reader from the experience.

Sometimes telling is the best thing you can do when writing. I know I've used it to speed up the pacing of my story when the plot starts to drag. But adding more than just a single sentence telling how a character feels is a great way to bring your reader into your story. :)

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