Show Don’t Tell

Don’t tell me! Show me! - New chalkboard with outlined text - on wood

Let’s talk about showing vs telling. It’s the one thing that can mess up any writer and drive him or her nuts. This can also keep you from getting a contract. I know when I started writing a few years ago this tripped me up more than anything else that I had to learn about writing. So let’s dig into the differences and I’ll also post some examples from my book Hearts Undone.
First off, when you’re writing and it’s telling, it’s super boring and will no doubt make someone either throw the book, or they’ll skip over parts in the book. That is not what an author ever wants to happen. When you’re showing it draws the reader into the book. It makes them feel like they’re there with the hero and heroine experiencing what they’re feeling, hearing, doing or seeing.
To get into showing, you need to get into deep POV(Point Of View). It’s an intense point of view, not only using sights, sounds, and smells, but also their reaction and the unique way your characters look at the world. For this you will need this formula:
You will want to remember this formula while writing. I took a class at Savvy Author on this and the lady who taught this told us that, and she was totally right. Once I learned this formula I did so much better with going into deep POV which in turn made my characters 3 dimensional. Let’s take a look at some examples from my book on how to show and not tell.
Example 1 Shelby walked with her daughter to her car and found a piece of paper. (Telling and gives us no idea what is going on in the scene.)

Example 2. Hannah’s hair bounced as she skipped down the sidewalk with her mother. Shelby unlocked the car door. A piece of paper sat on her seat. She pulled her daughter back before she could get in. “Stay right here, sweetie.”

Reaching in, she picked up the paper and read the words: “Keep quiet or else!”

Her hands shook and her bacon burger sat in the pit of her stomach like a lead weight. Nausea made her head swim. Approaching the car, Mark spotted the white square in Shelby’s hand. “What’s wrong, Shelby?”

Shelby coughed as a lump formed, making it difficult for her to speak. Swallowing several times, she began to feel light-headed.

“What’s the matter, Shel?” She tried to talk and nothing would come from her lips. Shelby shook her head. He rushed to her side and took the white piece of paper from her. The note had been written with words cut out from magazines and glued to the page. At first glance, it looked like a preschooler put the note together.

She tightened her hold on Hannah as she glanced around. Someone got into her locked car when they were only a few feet away. Why?

“Take Hannah and move to the sidewalk.” The dominant tone of his voice forced her to focus better. She blinked to stop her mind from racing. Shelby nodded then moved to where he told her. Mark paced back and forth like a caged tiger ready to pounce as he talked to the police on his cell. He glanced around, looking for danger.

Deep inside, coldness settled. The hairs on her neck rose. Someone was around and watching without her being able to see. Where? Her grip tightened on her daughter’s hand. “Ouch, Mommy.”

Shelby loosened her grip and put on a fake smile. “Sorry, sweetie.”

God be with us. I don’t know who sent this note, but we need protection.

You see the difference?

Example number two is longer and that will happen when your in deep POV. It draws the reader in. We see what Shelby is seeing. We learn that someone has left a threatening note and how she’s feeling. We also see the protective way that Mark is with her from her POV.


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About the Author

Allyson Carter
Allyson Carter is an author who dips her toes into the suspense and romance genres in the Edgy Christian market. She lives in Missouri with her husband, four children and three cats, where she homeschools her children, three on the autism spectrum. You can find out more about her books and read her blog on her website.

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