Best way to show instead of tell

Showing instead of telling is difficult. Most of the time, it’s hard to think of how to show something.

I forgot who gave me this writing tip, but it’s one of the best ones I know: show through action. Or, in other words, show through your character interacting with the world.

Here’s an example:

It was cold outside.


I shuddered as a chilly breeze blew by. I should’ve brought my jacket.

True, it does take more words to show something. That’s possibly why writers tend to tell sometimes. But showing your story helps readers visualize the world and connect with your characters.

I’ve also had some writers ask how to show character descriptions. It works the same way.

Nipifa brushed her hair back behind her ear, revealing her dragon tattoo. It looked as if it was flying in the sky against her blue skin.

Remember, sometimes it’s better to tell instead of show. In a scene though, this type of visual showing draws readers more into the story. We remember vivid details more than anything else.

A good exercise to practice this with is to make a list of common words to describe your setting, character, etc. and don’t use them. How can you describe a bookstore without using the words book and shelves? Can you describe a heavily tattooed person without the word tattoo?

Build a picture of what’s around your character.

Hope this helps!

This was originally posted on my writing blog.

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