The writing technique – Show Don’t Tell – helps us bring our stories to life. We do this by seeing the world through the eyes of our characters. We experience the world through their senses, and we let them speak for themselves. Their actions and reactions move the story forward and their body language reveals their emotions.
Of course, there are times when you need to tell, but it is better to show most of the time. It helps us remain in the active voice, create white space, and create conflict.
Avoid these 10 verbs that make you tell:
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.
If you enjoyed this post, read:
- Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language
- 3 Simple Ways To Show And Not Tell
- 5 Instances When You Need To Tell (And Not Show)
- The 5 Senses – How Readers Remember Stories
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