Show, Don’t Tell

“In descriptions of Nature, one must seize on small details, grouping them so that when the reader closes his eyes he gets a picture.” Anton Chekhov

This quote by the Russian playwright, and variations of it, became the basis for the ‘Show, don’t tell’ technique used in various kinds of storytelling. ‘Show, don’t tell’ describes writing by showing the actions, relationships and feelings instead of just telling the reader what happened. It allows the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings, describing the scene in such a way that the reader can draw his or her own conclusions.

So what can you do to implement ‘show, don’t tell’ in your writing?

  • Use the character’s five senses.
  • Use strong verbs.
  • Avoid adverbs.
  • Be specific.
  • Use dialogue.
  • Focus on actions and reactions.

This technique applies equally to nonfiction and fiction, including poetry, speech, film and plays and public speaking. Think about how you can show your audience what you want to share with them; and by doing so, you will keep a captivated audience that will stick with you to the end.

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