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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12
votes
4answers
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 ...
16
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7answers
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 ...
6
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3answers
184 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 ...
53
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13answers
10k 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
940 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 ...
0
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1answer
85 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 ...
3
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2answers
171 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 ...
9
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2answers
340 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 ...
16
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6answers
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-...
18
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8answers
3k views

How to make clear what a part-humanoid character looks like when they're quite common in their world?

How can I describe an unconventionally part-humanoid character, so the reader knows clearly what they look like, while in a world where these people are normal and it's not unusual at all for ...
5
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2answers
131 views

How do you describe sentimental human physical interactions?

For example, Amanda just lost a battle in her life. When she met her best friend and mother, she lost it and started crying. The other characters comforted her with a hug, some talks, and some pats on ...
5
votes
3answers
108 views

How to show the same emotion multiple times?

I think everyone has heard the "show don't tell" rule. My question is how can I show same emotion multiple times without the description being the same. For example if my character is scared I can ...
4
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2answers
475 views

How to creatively handle intoxication when you yourself haven't experienced such a thing?

Now I wouldn't call myself a true writer. I'm about 14 now and I'm currently preparing for my IGCSEs with a ton of subjects to juggle through and revise. English Language is one of the subjects, and ...
5
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3answers
294 views

How do you show character reactions without making them do something physically that is unrealistic?

I've read stuff like these: she sat up. Startled. His face flushed (how does that happen in real life) He felt his neck muscles tense up, his temples started bulging, he started breathing more ...
5
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5answers
1k views

Is writing big facts about a character's background good when first introducing them?

I hope this question is not mainly opinion based, I'm really just looking for a writer's handbook/source/acclaimed author saying this is either good, okay or bad. I think it might not be so good, ...
5
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3answers
175 views

How to express uncontrollable sadness [closed]

I am doing an assignment where I have to add my own chapter into a book our class read called Looking For Alaska by John Green. When: We don't know what she's feeling when she does it because it's ...
3
votes
4answers
220 views

How to write about characters and places you aren't personally familiar with?

What do I need to do, as an Indian writer, if I want to make British or Americans the main characters in my book, and make the whole story revolve around them in any other country? In general, is it ...
4
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3answers
139 views

How do I handle English speaking where the language used isn't English but is translated in it? [duplicate]

I'm kind of having trouble with portraying one of my main character's English speaking foreign friend. My character and the country he is in don't really use English as the language they communicate ...
0
votes
1answer
122 views

How to write about pouring water? [closed]

When someone treats a wound, like a burn, there’s this sound of the water pouring down, hitting the sink. Does anyone know what the sound is called? What things should I keep in mind while writing ...
11
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6answers
2k views

Do my characters need to have different mannerisms in order to be perceived as different?

My editor returned to me with her initial critique of my novel, saying some characters were too similar, and that they had the same likes and dislikes and flaws. The characters she mentioned were ...
52
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15answers
13k views

How to make the reader think that the *character's* logic is flawed instead of the author's?

Following up on my previous question, "How to make the villain's motives understandable if his logic is flawed?", how can I let the reader know that the lack of logic is on the character's side, ...
9
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4answers
1k views

How to make the villain's motives understandable if his logic is flawed?

In a story I'm writing, the villain has his motives for his attitudes. However, he is very mentally disturbed, which makes the logic of his motives be kind of illogic to other people (including the ...
38
votes
16answers
8k views

How do I convey that a relationship is platonic?

I've been toying around with the idea of writing a novel. The story revolves around two characters, one male and one female, and the perspective will shift between them. One of the central ideas of ...
2
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2answers
248 views

How to express Nihilism without explicitly stating it? [closed]

In my novel, the character is sitting in a café sipping coffee, and she is watching a busy street of people rushing towards London underground after the office hours. I want to express the thoughts in ...
15
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12answers
3k views

How do you keep a villainous character from being offensive to a particular group?

If the villain of your story is a member of a certain group, how do you keep the story from being offensive to members of that group? For example, one of the villain in my book is a WWII veteran. I ...
17
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5answers
2k views

How can I convey an absolute truth from the author to the reader without a mentor character?

There are sometimes moments in works of fiction where the author needs to convey something to the reader without ambiguity. Let's say the situations around the characters get so weird that the author ...
6
votes
8answers
2k views

Describing something that doesn't exist [duplicate]

I'm in the middle of my first draft for my novel, and I can't seem to properly convey to my audience the image I'm trying to describe. That's what I want to show my readers, but it's coming across ...
8
votes
1answer
190 views

How to write a discussion amongst 5 people while narrating a novel as first person singular?

I am writing an autobiographical novel and there is a scene where 5 people will be discussing a subject matter. Now, how can I write the discussion without making it sound like a newbie like I want to ...
2
votes
2answers
137 views

Working with hints/clues - Show vs Tell vs Nothing -ish

This is about the hints that the readers should notice as the story progresses - and should definitely notice upon re-read. First off, I looked around for a bit and didn't see any questions on this ...
5
votes
4answers
645 views

How can I write a street-smart character?

The book that I'm currently writing has a 16-year-old boy called Joseph Norton as the protagonist and it's implied via flashbacks that during his childhood he would frequently run away from his foster ...
2
votes
2answers
146 views

Are there any guidelines for writing a fiction story in a non-fiction style?

Jorge Luis Borges wrote a lot of short stories describing fictional things and places directly to the reader (like The Library of Babel). For instance, let's see one excerpt of Decline and Fall of ...
32
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8answers
9k views

How to show a character being bored for multiple chapters without boring the reader

When my protagonist is learning to use their magical skill, they must remain in hiding. Because they have not yet mastered their magical skill. My protagonist is bored from being holed up for so ...
1
vote
3answers
616 views

How do you write an attack scene for a story using the technique “Show, don't tell”? [closed]

I'm writing a story and I need to describe a hidden young girl watching an attack on her village. How can I best show this instead of just telling it?
1
vote
7answers
241 views

Is it okay to include world-building facts by “telling” instead of “showing”?

I know we need to show and not tell, but is it still okay to sometimes tell instead of having to show it? For example, I wanna let the reader know that humans in my story are actually the same species ...
5
votes
5answers
675 views

Is inner monologue a bad way to show character traits?

Is directly showing a characters inner thoughts and conversations with themselves too telly or cheesy?
3
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5answers
667 views

Is show not tell less useful advice in first person

Following the first answer for this question What does Show don't Tell actually mean I followed to the Chuck Palahniuk exercise and tried applying it to my current work. From this point ...
4
votes
6answers
4k views

How would a mature teenager behave?

I'm writing about a mature girl (15ish). But I'm not sure how she should act other than being polite. The way I think a mature person would act would be someone who doesn't swear, but some mature ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

How do I transition from a day to another smoothly in a short story that takes place over of seven straight days?

I am working on a short story, narrated in third person, roughly 20 pages long, that runs for seven straight days. Each day some event occurs that has some significance to plot and the ending of the ...
8
votes
7answers
240 views

How do I show the confusion my character feels?

I am trying to show the confusion my character feels (first person narrative) but am not sure what techniques to use. I have tried to achieve this using questions that arose through my character's ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

How much dialogue in a first date scene?

Something I always get stuck with is how to describe a first date. E.g. I have a story where 2 characters are on a blind date, so they have to get to know each other. How much of the date should be ...
1
vote
3answers
116 views

At what point do you draw the line of showing, and not telling, or vice versa?

I often get confused in writing about whether or not something is showing or telling. For example, if my character wears a mask through which he can’t see, and I as the all-knowing narrator/writer ...
29
votes
7answers
6k views

How to tactfully inform readers of differences in the book world to the real world?

I want to write a fantasy novel, but there are a few issues that I have with the way that I should write it. One of my questions lies in the problem of how I, the narrator/book-writer, can inform my ...
35
votes
8answers
5k views

What is the balance between 'stating a problem clearly' and Hemingway's literary iceberg?

At a writer's critique group, one piece of feedback to me was: people didn't understand where I was going until the very end. They suggested stating something explicit at the very beginning so they ...
2
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2answers
1k views

Better Ways of Showing Fear

In my current novel, I'm dealing with very scary creatures that never fail to fill my protagonist with fear, but I always have her doing the same thing. My character always seems to simply widen her ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Showing Confusion

My first instinct is to always have a character furrow their eyebrows when confused because that's my personal first instinct, but I feel it's getting overused on my part. What are some other ways to ...
5
votes
9answers
436 views

How can you show that a character is feeling amazing?

It's easy to show hesitance, fear or angst, you can have a character smoking 5-10 cigarettes in a row, linger for way too long, act out, or something like that. But how can you show a character that ...
1
vote
2answers
85 views

Writing my Watson trope

I've been advised to sharpen my sidekick from an "intriguing second tier" character to the delegate for the readers. Is there a tried and tested formula succinctly captured somewhere? I'm looking to ...
0
votes
4answers
204 views

Writing differently when following different character POVs - mainly age difference. (3rd Person)

I'm writing a sci-fi novel with more than one main character. Since I'm not an experienced writer, I still struggle with some basic "rules" within writing that may or may not exist. This issue is ...
3
votes
2answers
255 views

How to present details about the setting in a fantasy world without telling? [duplicate]

One of the rules of good writing is the show, don't tell rule. I want to create a realistic fantasy world, so I've thought about details like astronomy, geography and so on. For instance, this world ...
6
votes
4answers
309 views

How do you use showing in animal fantasy?

When I read showing in stories with people, they describe facial expressions for showing (among other things). What can a writer use in an animal fantasy? I'm sure it depends on the animal, but ...