Skip to main content

Showing Versus Telling in Creative Writing

 Showing Versus Telling

The above is a writing rule I learned from my creative writing course at All About Writing. Before I joined the course, I had no clue about the writing rules.  Even after the course, I'm not sure I grasped all the rules, or grasping and practising are two different things. 

The template in the post introduces the difference between telling and showing. 

What is telling in writing? 

As I know it, Telling is an easy method.  

You create a scene, and at some point, your character is petrified.  You can use adjectives like angry, troubled, upset, and so on, the reason many of us prefer it. 

What is showing?

 To show is an effort; we should show the character's reactions on the face, body, voice, and explain the surroundings, the smell, the sound.  Get the reader to engage with all senses for the emotional connection, do not come naturally, need to practise.   

It brings specific details about his facial expressions, body language and voice modulations.  To show anger, you detail how his eyes went red shot, his mouth quirked in disgust, he stamped on the floor etc.

Why show gets the upper hand over telling?

You, as a reader, like reading stories with characters resonating with you emotionally.  So, as a writer, you should make your characters interesting, getting the readers emotionally connected to them. And showing the situations or the settings with details.  There is no novelty in writing your character is angry, show his mood and reactions.   

Anger is always a surface reaction to underlying problems like feeling afraid, confused, hurt, jealous, embarrassed, defeated, hopeless, rejected, infuriated, etc. Also, some express anger differently; some passively get withdrawn, others aggressively lash out.   We show it through the body language going silent, shouting, beating, staring at others, clenching fists, calling names etc.  

The theory part is easy in reading, not in practising. It is challenging.  Before joining the course, I took writing as an effortless exercise, a master of pen and paper. If you take creative writing seriously, it's worth knowing the writing rules as a rule of thumb, and the more you do it, the more you realise its beauty.  You can get lessons on it from the net. Just google search. 


A few tips for practising showing, not telling:

1. Make your character observe, see, smell, touch, and listen to, then write about it without using those words.  Using senses, you force your characters to interact with the environment you're showing. 

2. The more you specify in detailing your descriptions and actions, the easier it is to show. Make your writing stronger, images clearer to force your reader to engage mentally and emotionally.  

3. Dialogue: The moment you start using dialogue in your writing, your characters start talking, you're showing. It becomes an action scene where things happen and move. And you must make them interact with the settings and engage your readers. 

Wish everybody who read this good practice in showing.

This post 7 is part of blog chatter Half Marathon.


  1. Show don't tell is a wonderful way to express through action and words.
    Nice post!

    1. That is wonderful and engaing and difficult to work out. Thank you :)

  2. I gained a new insight in creative writing today. Thanks for this enlightenment.

  3. Replies
    1. Happy to know, you find it helpful, thank you for reading it :)


Post a Comment

It's all about friendly conversations here :) I would love to hear your thoughts about my post.

Be sure to check back again. I would make all efforts to respond to your comments.

Popular posts from this blog

Spend a day with my favourite author

 Spending a day With My Favourite Author The Image is taken from Blog Chatter      I can include a list of authors on my favourites, filter them down to five and then screen them to a final three. The finalists are J M Coetzee, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Trevour Noah.       JM Coetzee is the two times Booker Prize winner for his novels, Life &Times of Michael K (1983) and Disgrace in 1999. The theme of Life and Times of Michael K hadn't made sense to me when I read it for the first time. It was a time when I couldn't analyse creative writing beyond the book's pages and that of a great writer like Coetzee.   The novel unfolds the concerns and the dilemma of Michael K, ugly to look at, beset by life conditions he never comprehends and can't control during the times of a fictional civil war in South Africa. Another reason to be fascinated by the two books is the story settings are places I am living or lived.       Disgrace is a suggestive story about post-apartheid

Things I would Like to Work on in the Month of August

  4Things I would like to work on in August Images from my file using Failing to plan things is planning to fail. During my teaching years, I crammed the idea into my learner's minds and mine. Once I retired, I lapsed into not caring about planning things.   The call to write about four things I like to work on in August came as a wake-up call to renew the habit, and I jumped for it. August, in a biblical sense, is the month of beginning things. In South Africa, August celebrates 'women's Month,' to commemorate a historic march of women of all races made on 9 August 1956 against apartheid.  The month of July got stuffed up with book reviews and Insta Reel creations, things I enjoyed much. The beautiful themes and plot developments of the books reviewed afforded me new perspectives, and I have more queued in my reading list. The IG Reels were a thing of technical adventure, a challenge that made me feel stupid in the initial days, and when I called out 'Eu

Arjun Madhavan - the Protagonist of my up-Coming Thriller-Murder at Thampuran Kotta

A 'no' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'yes' merely uttered to please, or worse to avoid trouble -- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi A-For Arjun #BlogChatterA2Z The image was taken from Thoroughly excited to reveal the protagonist of my upcoming thriller -Murder at Thampuran Kotta, as part of this year's A2Z marathon-the first of its kind I have ever undertaken. His name is Arjun Madhavan--a familiar name among Malayalam speakers. The first post would suffice to present him before you, not a hectic introduction. Then the remaining twenty-five posts to complete the rest of my novel or up to where they take me. This is my second author endeavour- the first is an e-book titled, Under the Bakula Tree, published on a contemporary woman story and a short read--a sisterhood taking root under the patriarchy is the subtitle.   Three-fourths of the thriller I have covered.  It was a group expedition, I reckon, sailing through unfamili