Show! Don't tell. - 10 Verbs That Make You Tell

Here are 10 verbs that make you tell:

  1. appeared
  2. decided
  3. felt
  4. heard
  5. knew
  6. mused
  7. realised
  8. seemed
  9. thought
  10. wondered
How do you avoid using them? Show how your character feels by her actions. Use strong verbs to describe her state of mind.

Don’t say: Sarah appeared to be angry as she put her books on the table.
Do say: Sarah slapped her books on the table.
Don’t say: Angus seemed distracted as he walked along the road.
Do say: Angus paused in the road. A car’s brakes screamed. ‘Hey, watch out!’ He jumped at the sound of the angry driver’s voice. ‘Why don’t you look where you’re going?’
Don’t say: Harry decided to visit the more appealing of the two countries.
Do say: Harry grabbed a pen. He drew up two columns. New Zealand or Germany. Which of the countries was more appealing? This to-do list would help him decide. 

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31 responses
Cheryll knew he was lying because she'd heard the call he made. She thought that even though he seemed like a nice guy, he wasn't. She wondered if he realised she'd caught on or not. When he appeared at the door she felt chills run down her spine. He had a gun so she decided not to unlock it. (Writing this a-mused me) I think I got them all. ;-)
she she she,wordy
Great post, thank you for posting.
Great post thanks for sharing
She listened to his call realizing that he was not as he appeared to be.She worried that he had a gun and did not answer his knock . too wordy to get the same point (could word otherwise too . .She heard the call he made.He had a gun and she was concerned that when she opened the door he would look at her face and realize her fear. she decided not to answer his knock etc etc etc
some commenter's have entirely missed the point of the post by M Mathias.
Interesting and informative. Use colorful verbs that are descriptive?
I am an up and coming writer. I am the guy who failed english and yet excelled at physics.c Im reading all of your posts and in question as to the amount of wording to each that you all use. "Her eyes blazed with gleam of fear, the slack on her shoulders growing tense. The call only confirming her fear that he was now who he said he was. Narrowing her eyes she caught sight of a flash from the light off the reflection of the gun. Confirming the intuition she had wondered on. The man talking to the receiver, the monotone not giving sway as his voice, drew out the syllables."
This is the kind of stuff I have been looking for, I appreciate you sharing this! I am officially addicted to this writers write :)
I am stumbling this post. The tips are so simple and yet as I read the differences, I could immediately feel the impact! That is how I want to write! To be sure, keeping it in my StumbleUpon list makes sure I can keep coming back until I acquire the habit of writing in this manner.
Thank you, Robert. We're glad it helped.
18 visitors upvoted this post.