Show, Don't Tell


Tell:  Sam was tired.

Show:  Sam slowly plodded along the pathway to the cottage, slightly hunched from being bent over all day hoeing his corn field.  

Tell:  The car was old.

Show:  Her vintage was obvious for all to see, with her faded paint; awkward list from worn shock absorbers; and missing chrome.

Tell:  Grandma liked to avoid the sun.

Show:  Grandma hurried from the harsh glare of the sun, holding her hat brim down and squinting as she made for the covered outdoor bleachers.


Tell:  The room was always a mess.

Show:  She was always slightly annoyed at how anyone could live in such a cluttered room with its unmade bed and papers strewn about.

Tell:  Gary didn't like dogs.

Show:  Anxiety welled up inside Gary at the very sight of a dog since he could never understand their behavior. 

Tell:  The storm was approaching.

Show:  Thunder boomed in the distance as the breeze picked up and the air became cold and menacing.


Tell:  Tom knew nothing about writing.

Show:  I leafed through Tom's manuscript and felt pity, for I too had to begin my long writer's journey from untrained beginnings.

Tell:  I'm sure something unusual was happening down the street.

Show:  At first I noticed the smell of smoke and then heard the unusual grinding sound from the end of the street.

Tell:  The irate customer wanted to see the manager.

Show:  "I demand to see the manager," she announced in a stern voice with hands planted on hips