• How do I make this paragraph from telling to show?
  • How could I describe a memory of him trying to make a friend even though he is disliked by others on his planet?

Here is the paragraph for these two questions:

John realised these things at an early age when he tried to make friends with other children. Everyone seemed to be disgusted with him. He felt unloveable. He had wished that he would become an explorer and travel to different planets in order to find a friend. Someone who would value him for who he was.


2 Answers 2


Remember that time...?

I like Murphy L's answer (I upvoted it), but I thought I'd add a couple of alternatives, since I don't personally like to overuse flashbacks. You can use other kinds of showing with a lot of the advantages of telling, without ACTUALLY telling and not showing.

  • I can see the character on a rocket, departing their home planet or just going to a new place, describing the situation and how it evokes a powerful memory of childhood (or the first time they left their home world). The show is the character's thoughts, although it has a lot of the advantages of telling (brevity, clarity).

The rocket leaving without them was gut-wrenching, even if he realized it was completely irrational. He suddenly felt like he was back in school, desperate to make friends, and wanting to leave his home world and find a place he was accepted more than anything else.

  • Characters can often bridge the gap between telling and showing in conversation. They try to explain themselves to someone who is wondering at their oddly gleeful response to the annoying routine of taking an orbital shuttle, or why the idea of returning to their home world fills them with such hostile reactions.

"It was a small place, you see. They thought small, they acted small, and their hearts were small too. I hated it above all things. Everyone knew I thought big, and they hated me in return." The bitterness in his voice was poorly concealed. "The day I left, I swore I would never go back."


It's as simple as one word: Flashback. Instead of telling what happened and how he felt, show the scene. Show him trying to make friends as a kid. Have a scene of him at a Little League game trying to make friends with his teammates (or something similar), and then getting rejected by everybody.

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