Show dont tell

Question: I have difficulties with showing. I just pile more and more on until my writing becomes bulky. "I watched as the rain came down in endless sheets" doesn't seem much better than "The rain came down in endless sheets."


Answer: I agee. The second example says the same thing, since we assume the narrator is watching the rain (otherwise, how could the narrator describe it?).

Showing is not necessarily about adding more words. It is about presenting sensory impressions so that the reader can infer what is happening as if they were actually present.

For instance, it may be better to say, "The rain came down in endless sheets. My wet socks squished in my shoes and my clothes clung heavily to my body. I hunched my shoulders as I paced, shivering in the dark, cool air..." than to say "It was miserable weather that night."

Building up an impression through sensory details usually takes more words, but not always. If you find the right "telling details," you can create a rich impression in a sentence or two rather than a long paragraph.

Sometimes it takes a couple of drafts before you find the right telling details, but if you get in the habit of looking for them, they will come faster. The right telling detail can be inserted into an action scene without slowing the pace too much.

Of course, the more important the event being described, the more sensory details you will want to include, so that the reader feels more present with the scene, and so becomes more emotionally engaged.

Best of luck.

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