We’ve all heard a variation of the advice: show, don't tell. In other words, don’t tell us what happened, show us.  In fact, you've even heard “Show, Don't Tell” on The Write Practice. The idea is that through descriptive phrase we can provide a better experience for the reader and provide them with the opportunity to make her own interpretations.

Showing or Telling

Photo by LongitudeorLatitude (creative commons). Modified by The Write Practice.

Ok, so you’ve done that.  You've completed a piece and tried your hardest to avoid telling. But how do you know you’ve succeeded?

Well first, check this post for the specifics on how to write vivid descriptions with examples of “show, don't tell” best practices.

A Tip To Check Whether You're Showing or Telling

Then, after doing your best, try this tip that I learned at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland.:

Go through your manuscript and highlight every time you see an adjective  (beautiful, lazy, persistent). Or a feeling  (love, hate, frustrated). If you see too many highlighted words, consider revising.

How can you convey these adjectives or feelings to the reader without using those specific words? What can you do to guide your reader?


Practice your showing skills!  Write a paragraph using descriptive detail.  Now, see how many adjectives/feelings you've used.  Take a few minutes to revise and share with us below!

Monica is a lawyer trying to knock out her first novel. She lives in D.C. but is still a New Yorker. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter (@monicamclark).

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