Thursday, May 2, 2013

2 Examples of Showing vs Telling

Because this subject never gets old…

You can say, “I enter the trashed attic…”


I enter the attic that had long been abandoned to time. Sheetrock lay free and broken at the base of frames that used to separate the space into two rooms. A single metal chair sits beside a support beam, the grey legs rusting in the damp air. In the areas where I can see the hardwood, beneath torn-up remains of a mattress, broken toys, and discarded aerosol cans, rests at least an inch of dust. Not a single footprint mars the surface.

You can say, “I walk down a forest path…”


The path I take is uneven, broken up by brown slabs of cut stone. Flowers of the strongest will sprout through the cracks, seeking whatever sunlight the forest’s dense foliage allows. The moisture-rich air feeds the verdant moss wrapping the path-framing boulders. Fern leaves grow up and over the stone like a canopy. Ahead, the spindly legs of trees grow more difficult to see through the increasing fog-cover.


My examples are for scene setting, but really, this goes for so much more.

You can say a person look sad or mad or happy… or you can show it using body language. Quick exercise to help: turn the sound off the television and just watch for a while.

You can say a person is attractive or ugly… or you can show it. It doesn’t hurt to take a few sentences to lay out a few details. Don’t want to make it heavy? Sprinkle those details in using…that’s right…body language. When the person moves, they use long or short fingers. They touch square chins coated in beard growth. Maybe they wear glasses that slide down a certain kind of nose. Teeth bite lips. Wind rustles hair. You get it.

Don’t be afraid to do a quick Internet search and scroll through images. I do this for just about everything these days. Your imagination can only take you so far. I’ve even been known to take and combine two or three images to make one room. Whatever you need to do to get those textures, smells, sounds… And if pictures aren’t enough, use VIDEO! *gasp*

Questions? Need help? See that comment button below? Use it! We’ll chat.

1 comment:

What say you?