Show Don’t Tell

by Laura Michelle Thomas


Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. – Anton Chekhov

Experienced storytellers show. Amateurs tell. What’s the difference? Let’s say you have a character named Bill and you want the reader to know that Bill is angry. You have two choices for showing Bill’s emotion: you can show or you can tell.

Bill was seething with rage when he woke up.

Bill’s alarm clock went off at 4 a.m. but he was already awake. The covers were in a ball at his ankles and the sheets were damp. A muggy puff of air came periodically through the wide open window across the room. Bill sighed and sat up knocking his daughter’s cat off the bed. The cat fell with a thud on the hardwood. Bill grabbed it by the scruff, went to the open window. He tossed the cat onto the fire escape, slammed the window shut and stood there watching it. He wanted the cat to jump. He wanted to see its red blood on the sidewalk.


Laura Michelle Thomas

About Laura Michelle Thomas

Laura Michelle Thomas is a novelist, freelance writer, writing mentor, and the owner of Laura Thomas Communications. She is the creator and administrator of the Junior Authors Contests and Junior Authors Conferences. Laura is publisher and senior editor of jaBlog! and is dedicated to fostering the development of young writers worldwide.

One comment on “Show Don’t Tell

  1. Journey

    I like that. I try to show things in my writing instead of tell them. It definetly helps to get rid of too much dialouge. The only problem is that you can make it too descriptive if you are not careful, and that will bore the reader.

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