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Show Not Tell

One of the biggest things your teachers push on students is to 'show, not tell' when they write. Whether it be an English teacher at your school or a Creative Writing teacher - because I've had both and can confirm this - they drill this into your brain. And some might see this in reviews that they need to work on this, I know I've mentioned this before when doing a review swap in the past and also doing reviews on novels for awards as well.

In the same vein, some people don't believe this is true. They're okay with things being bluntly stated.

So, who's right?

Well, in a sense, both.

Somethings, you don't need to show the readers. Like walking for instance. You don't need to show their feet moving one in front of the other. Tell them they're briskly walking or jogging down the dirt path.

Other things, namely emotions and such, that you show the reader. Like if someone's sad, don't tell the reader they are. Rather show them through a quivering lip or tears rolling down their cheeks or wanting to sleep in the middle of the day - the last is more someone is depressed - but you catch my drift.

Here's an example of what NOT to do:

Brian walked down the path to school. He was so sad the entire time, ready to ditch school right then and there. So, he does. Because he knows his longtime crush, Amanda Perkins, is sitting in a booth at the Tequila Grill, calling his name. Giving a 'fuck you' to the school because he hates them, he runs to skip school for Amanda.

Isn't that kind of boring and too blunt? Doesn't even flow.

Here's a better way to write the same paragraph:

Brian trudged down the worn path to school. Everyday it's the same. Never changing. His lip quivered, eyes sullen as the blurry outline of the large school building came into view. He sighed, hiking his bag strap further up his shoulder. It loved to fall down. He hated pulling it back up.

Why do I have to go today? Nobody will be there. Hell, I don't want to be there, he wondered to himself, halting dead in his tracks. Amanda is even going to the Tequilla Grill downtown. Maybe I can meet up with her.

A smile wove its way from ear to ear as his eyes brightened.

Before he took another step into view of the school, he turned on his heels, running towards the city where he planned to spend his day. Maybe even get a piece of Amanda Perkins.

Doesn't that flow better?

What needs to be told is told and the rest is shown through methodical word choice and actions.

One way to show emotions and feelings is choosing words with specific connotations. Like the word 'trudged' has a negative connotation, showing you he's dragging his way down the path. A sign he doesn't want to do whatever he's in the process of doing. In this case, it's walking to school.

In some cases, the weather can also be indicative of tone and mood. Stormy weather can tell a reader conflict is brewing or it's a gloomy scene. Like a potential break-up or the character is sad. Clear skies usually indicates a more happy, upbeat scene and mood. For the beginning of that scene, the clouds could be forming, and then disperse as he runs towards the city to meet Amanda.

Once you find your balance, your writing begins to flourish and your own style begins to form as well.

Foreshadowing is also done a lot of times during your details. Subtle hints throughout that something is about to happen or could happen. Again, adding this in comes with advanced writing and a sign you're evolving. With my first story, a lot of it came oit thin air without much tell of what could happen, I didn't start to play around with it until much later when I was really working and focusing on plot plus doing my own type of planning.

Hope this helps any! If you have any more questions about this topic or have others you want discussed, comment them down below. If you want your story reviewed honestly in the book, comment it down below. Happy reading! Also, go check out my prompt based award Candy Heart Awards for poetry and short stories.
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