Questions tagged [showing-telling]

This tag should be used for questions about the [technique] of "Show, don't tell!" The goal of this technique is to allow the reader to experience the story through senses and feelings instead of only listening to the author explaining something.

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How do I avoid repeating a sequence of events that occurs multiple times?

In a story I am working on, there are many doors that require a fingerprint, a passcode, and a key card to open. Writers say 'Show instead of telling.' As such, instead of writing something like: ...
CPlus's user avatar
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1 vote
4 answers
147 views

How to make sure the reader knows the MC is a different species (not human)?

How can I hint that the main character is a different species (still mostly human shape) without directly telling? I could mention specific traits, but I'm not exactly sure how to incorporate them ...
value1's user avatar
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0 votes
3 answers
98 views

How can I write an engaging story?

I am writing about this girl who's had a hard life for the past eight years, and she's moving to Dallas now. At Dallas, she gets enrolled in a new school, all in the first chapter. Then, she makes ...
Yasmin Aden's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
103 views

How can I make my character show his feelings more without being excessive?

I started writing a story sometime ago, and I wrote all I could think of. I did a good job as per my imagination served me. I couldn't complete the story because I planned to go the magic and fantasy ...
Shreeyash Shrestha's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
93 views

How do I maintain interesting prose outside of the introduction/hook when I start getting into my anecdotes?

This is a personal narrative where I want to narrate my creative side. I start off strong with figurative language, descriptions, and metaphors. But as I get into my anecdote and what I learned from ...
eli's user avatar
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12 votes
10 answers
3k views

Is it better to slowly introduce a character's looks rather than describing it all in one paragraph?

I've been rewriting a book, and I've realised how blocky and kind of boring my character descriptions were in my first version of the book, and I thought that maybe instead of writing a character that ...
HoomansRWe1rd's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
125 views

Is it a form of "tell and not show" when characters talk to themselves?

Is it a form of "tell and not show" when characters talk to themselves? I wonder if it's a bad thing. I've always seen cartoon characters do that, and I thought it was pretty unrealistic ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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8 votes
9 answers
4k views

How do you prevent yourself from neglecting scientific accuracy in a sci-fi-fantasy story without telling?

In a sci-fi setting, I was told it was important to follow scientific principles to some extent. Neglecting these principles can create confusion and disbelief among readers or viewers. For example, ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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15 votes
11 answers
9k views

When your main character is a misogynist or a racist, how do you tell your readers that you don't subscribe to his racist views by merely showing?

When your main character is a misogynist or a racist, how do you tell your readers that you don't subscribe to his racist views by merely showing? The only way to kinda do this in my opinion is to ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
689 views

When is exposition required and how do we keep it as short as possible?

I thought that a mission briefing, match briefing (sports,) made perfect sense, but I think exposition like that is terrible. In my story, there's a soldier who uses a special weapon purposed for a ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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1 vote
3 answers
341 views

How do you write a character with multiple personalities?

I have a character with multiple personalities, but the character is mute and cannot speak. He can only behave. Is there a way to show that this character has multiple personalities and is behaving ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
92 views

Is the occasional practical exposition jarring?

I always try to keep exposition to a minimum; whenever there is any backstory or worldbuilding, I let it come out via dialogue. The narration is impersonal; I don't want it to feel like someone's ...
user110391's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
159 views

I'm so angry! How can I show that in an interesting way?

This is in a sense a part two to my question on English Stack Exchange about replacement for word "bullshit", which I decided would better fit on this site. A bit of background Optional ...
Reverent Lapwing's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
48 views

Is the story deeper if the characters are not aware of the symbolism?

https://youtu.be/f2QWxqNOtJg?t=218 In Game of Thrones 2, the king is made aware of the white stag, which is a symbol, and I was wondering if this kind of symbolism is there to have a completely ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
1k views

How to describe someone whose eyes sparkle mischievously?

I've been told that I'm telling instead of showing when I say my characters' eyes sparkle 'mischievously.' How do you describe something like that? I've been looking it up and trying different tricks ...
KeiraKnox's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
173 views

Is this telling and not showing, and why is it ok in here?

In Stone Ocean, the antagonist explains his power at the end of the series. I am wondering if this is telling and not showing and if there are situation where telling and showing is completely ok and ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
230 views

Guy's POV when falling in love. Too much, not enough?

Half of my story is told from (1st person) male POV and he falls in love with the leader of a rebellion he's meant to be undercover investigating and trying to stop. He slowly comes round to join the ...
aurorajack's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
93 views

Show don't tell in the paragraph

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 ...
Jiya's user avatar
  • 19
0 votes
1 answer
230 views

Showing and not telling in comics and visual media

Is there such a thing in showing and not telling when writing the script for a movie or a comic books? It seems that in movie scripts you need to actually do the opposite by telling and not showing in ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
195 views

How do you show, not tell when a person poisons someone?

How do you show, not tell when a person poisons someone? Instead of saying, "Robert put poison in his drink", what do you do to show that Robert did it? Do you just heavily suggest it was ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
6k views

Ways to show someone is whispering without using "he whispered"

I've seen a lot of advice that says you should scrap all non-'said' dialogue tags. I can see the value of this, but I'm not sure how to make it work in every instance. It's pretty easy to show things ...
aurorajack's user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
338 views

How can I show characters dealing with rejection?

From my own experience reaction to rejection is very internal. I'm having troubles with coming up with actions that rejected people do, that would be perfect description for what they feel. It would ...
Rico's user avatar
  • 609
2 votes
4 answers
201 views

How do you show and not tell an action such as "installed a virus"?

How do you show and not tell an action such as "installed a virus"? I am wondering if saying "installed a virus on his machine" is a description rather than an action. If so, is ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
227 views

How to "show not tell" hero's thought process?

This question is inspired by a different one - How to communicate characters' inner states?. Although it may seem similar at first glance, I find the difference quite profound. My question regards ...
Rico's user avatar
  • 609
1 vote
3 answers
375 views

How to communicate characters' inner states?

This is a huge question, parts of which have been answered on this site. However, this is one of the biggest challenges writers face, and so I think the question's relevancy matches the amount of work ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,043
2 votes
4 answers
272 views

How can I keep a spy character portrayed as competent and yet have interactions between protagonist and antagonist?

I have a character that is a spy, and part of their job is sneaking around and getting into places without being noticed. However, in order to have conflict in the plot, have characters interacting to ...
user2352714's user avatar
  • 4,685
3 votes
5 answers
1k views

How do I show that my character is intelligent?

I have a fantasy story in which the lead character is designed as your typical bland everyman protagonist whose purpose is to give the reader someone to relate to and ask questions about the ...
user2352714's user avatar
  • 4,685
1 vote
3 answers
392 views

How to write a scene about a main character who is crying?

I am writing a scene in which I want to show how my MC is still weak and vulnerable. My character is emotionally strong, but I am not able to describe a scene where she is crying in a room alone, so ...
Valerie's user avatar
  • 11
1 vote
2 answers
76 views

Does descriptive language in written fiction work as well as physical characterization in visual media?

Character design in visually oriented works (comic books, film, television) is often a useful shorthand for making characters stand out and be memorable in terms of their appearance. For example, ...
user2352714's user avatar
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20 votes
13 answers
4k views

How do I provide exposition on a magic system when no character has an objective or complete understanding of it?

I'm writing an urban fantasy series in which like many urban fantasy series there is a magic-and-powers system hidden from the broader world that the supernatural phenomena of the series run on. ...
user2352714's user avatar
  • 4,685
9 votes
6 answers
744 views

How to stop writing from deteriorating mid-writing?

I'm not really sure how to describe this, but whenever I write I tend to start off okay-ish but as I progress it all just falls downhill. I think it's because I get too ahead of myself with my ideas ...
Kyl's user avatar
  • 587
2 votes
2 answers
148 views

How do I show a character is involved in Internet subculture without making them seem dated?

I have a character who one of their primary character quirks is supposed to be that they are very involved in Internet subculture. They're a programmer who spends a lot of their spare time on certain ...
user2352714's user avatar
  • 4,685
8 votes
9 answers
4k views

How can I show that a character does something without thinking?

When a character does something suddenly, how can I show this instead of just telling the reader they did it "without thinking"? Like: "Without thinking, I jumped." Or: “Without ...
Heyyy's user avatar
  • 189
1 vote
5 answers
304 views

How can I show a character looking around without just saying "I looked around"?

I'm looking for another way to say, “I looked around, until my eyes landed on a man.” I’m sick of the sentence “I looked around”, but it’s important that she does since she wakes up in an unfamiliar ...
Heyyy's user avatar
  • 189
2 votes
2 answers
635 views

Show vs Tell: Complex and nuanced emotions

The one writing guideline that has altered my writing the most is the Show vs Tell guideline. I was probably far into the "tell" territory before, but sometimes I feel like this guideline is ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,043
1 vote
1 answer
174 views

Am I telling or showing?

I'm having some trouble with "Show, don't tell" when come to writing, so I'd like some advice. I'm trying to highlight the relationship and personality between these characters, but I'm ...
calvin_0's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
201 views

Would incorporating a constructed language into my story this way cause confusion later?

This is part of the story I'm working on: “Imikagaw” a feminine voice called out as she put her hand on the back of the man in cape. “Usamiakusta ow ihsataw aw amas Enna “Uoyustih ag imikagaw aw nah ...
calvin_0's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
262 views

How can I show a character's emotions through a phone call?

When writing face-to-face dialogue, I like to give clues as to what the non-POV character is thinking and feeling through their actions. Not all the time, but whenever it feels appropriate. They might ...
Llewellyn's user avatar
  • 3,295
2 votes
2 answers
3k views

How to "show" a "Yes" head confirmation

How can I "show" that my character is saying "yes" as a respond from a question? The only thing that comes to my mind is Mike moves his head, confirming that he is okay. I think this is not good ...
Ricardo's user avatar
  • 139
1 vote
3 answers
359 views

I abstain from using concise words in my writing, so as to "show" instead of "tell". Is this bad writing?

Instead of explaining this whole practice, I'll rather give an example. In a scene in my book, there is this character. This character is pompous and arrogant. I describe their gait shortly after ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,043
4 votes
3 answers
824 views

Recounting events in dialogue

In my story, the MC goes through a number of events with a common theme, each told in separate scenes. At the end of the story, he tells a friend about the things he experienced. Both the events and ...
Llewellyn's user avatar
  • 3,295
12 votes
4 answers
2k views

How do I show and not tell a backstory? [duplicate]

In my novel, Matt's girlfriend Ella gets kidnapped and Matt is held responsible by the kidnappers. As it wasn't for ransom but as a revenge of something Matt did. And then Matt storms into my MC's ...
The White Cloud's user avatar
15 votes
7 answers
5k views

Is straight-up writing someone's opinions telling?

When I first learned about the "show don't tell" guideline, I believe it applied to everything. I have now learned there are many grey areas, like for example exposition, and that the most important ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,043
9 votes
4 answers
393 views

How to help the reader wrestle through historical atrocities which would be considered normal to the POV character

I'm writing historical fiction which is set in ancient China. My MC is a historical figure who really did go into battle as a woman. Women in the ancient world were abused and mistreated. Males ...
Caspian's user avatar
  • 1,475
59 votes
13 answers
12k views

How do I write "Show, Don't Tell" as a person with Asperger Syndrome?

I have been told by my friends that my writing seems a bit blunt in the sense of I rarely practice "Show, Don't Tell" (SDT) in my stories. However, I personally find SDT hard because...I just don't ...
Realdeo's user avatar
  • 769
12 votes
7 answers
1k views

Should I "tell" my exposition or give it through dialogue?

When my work was being critiqued, one of the critics said that the exposition given away in my dialogue was forced and unnatural. Though, this exposition is crucial, so leaving it out is out of the ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,043
0 votes
1 answer
143 views

What effects do the different types of flashbacks produce?

Different types of "Flashbacks" In this question, the OP asks what the different types of flashbacks are, which of them is used the most and which is the most effective. He doesn't really ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 4,043
3 votes
2 answers
248 views

How can I emphasize the horror of a ritual without getting too overly graphic?

A person is born with a certain amount of mana, which increases with age and peaks at a certain point. Individuals are born with all the mana they will ever have, but it can be refined with practice ...
Incognito's user avatar
  • 1,981
10 votes
2 answers
507 views

Delivering sarcasm

Most of us who have spent more than a few days reading things and interacting with people on the internet know how difficult it is to convey sarcasm. There is no tone there is only the words on our ...
Summer's user avatar
  • 4,461
17 votes
6 answers
3k views

Making him into a bully (how to show mild violence)

Joe is the worst. Nobody likes him, not even the so-called friends he teams up with at school, filling other students with terror. He's sarcastic, nasty, and a bit of a racist, and especially anti-...
Cyn's user avatar
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