Show. Don’t tell. They tell you this all the time!

Here’s my example, from something of mine.

I looked at his mother. What a pathetic mother she was. Instead of standing up and defending her child against a screeching neighbor, she just sat there holding her Oreo over her glass of milk, not dipping it, frightened like a deer when a car is about to mow it down.

Don’t tell us she’s pathetic. SHOW us that she’s pathetic.

I looked at his mother. [CUT THIS… What a pathetic mother she was.] Instead of standing up and defending her child against a screeching neighbor, she just sat there holding her Oreo over her glass of milk, not dipping it, frightened like a deer when a car is about to mow it down.

So, the readers get to figure out that she’s pathetic. Much more satisfying for them. If they don’t figure it out, it’s your fault.

I looked at his mother. Instead of standing up and defending her child against a screeching neighbor, she just sat there holding her Oreo over her glass of milk, not dipping it, frightened like a deer when a car is about to mow it down.

Do one entire rewrite concentrating only on the Show Don’t Tell problem. Once you start looking, you’ll find it everywhere. Like roaches.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Show. Don’t tell. They tell you this all the time!

  1. schillingklaus

    I detest showing, and I will keep on telling deliberately and religiosly, whatever the cost. None of your diatribes will stop me.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      As long as you enjoy what you’re writing, do whatever you want. Especially if you’re a novelist. Well, actually, I learned SDT (show don’t tell) from a book editor.

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