‘Show, don’t tell’ is good advice for any writer, but even more so for a short story writer. The limited word count means our writing has to work harder. We really need to pack a punch. Here’s how:
1. Express emotion as action:
2. Choose a viewpoint character:
By choosing one character to focus on you make it easier for yourself to simplify your scene and make the most of it. Write small.
3. Use the senses:
Write a list of what your character sees, hears, feels, touches and tastes. Then write about it without using the words see, hear, feel, touch and taste.
4. Be specific:
The more specific you are with your descriptions and actions the easier it will become to show.
5. Avoid these ‘telling’ words: is, are, was, were, have, had
6. Use dialogue:
This is one of the simplest tools to use. The moment your characters start talking, showing becomes easier.
Show, don’t tell is a very powerful writing tool. Keep practising.
by Mia Botha
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