How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories

How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories


Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. In this post, we show you how to ‘show and not tell’ in short stories.

‘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:

How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories

1.  Express emotion as action:

How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories

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.

How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories

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.

How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories

4.  Be specific:

The more specific you are with your descriptions and actions the easier it will become to show.

How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories

5.  Avoid these ‘telling’ words: is, are, was, were, have, had

How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories

6.  Use dialogue:

This is one of the simplest tools to use. The moment your characters start talking, showing becomes easier.

How To Show And Not Tell In Short Stories

Show, don’t tell is a very powerful writing tool. Keep practising.

Happy writing.

[Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.]

 by Mia Botha