Writing/Show rather than tell

"Show, don't tell" is a principle in writing that encourages authors to use vivid descriptions, sensory details, and actions to allow readers to experience a story rather than just being told about it.[1] Here are several examples to illustrate this concept:

  1. Telling: She was sad.
    • Showing: Tears welled in her eyes as she gazed out the window, the weight of her disappointment settling in her shoulders.
  2. Telling: The room was messy.
    • Showing: Clothes lay scattered on the floor, a layer of dust coating neglected surfaces, and the air held a faint scent of stale pizza.
  3. Telling: It was a hot day.
    • Showing: The asphalt shimmered in the relentless sun, and the air was thick with the sweet hum of cicadas as beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
  4. Telling: The dinner was delicious.
    • Showing: The flavors exploded in her mouth—savory, tangy, and a hint of sweetness—as she savored each bite, unwilling to let the culinary masterpiece end.
  5. Telling: He was nervous.
    • Showing: His hands trembled as he tried to steady his breath, and his gaze darted around the room, avoiding eye contact with those who could sense his unease.
  6. Telling: The city was beautiful.
    • Showing: Skyscrapers glittered like crystal in the night, the city lights forming a tapestry that danced along the river, captivating anyone lucky enough to witness the spectacle.
  7. Telling: The dog was scared.
    • Showing: Ears flattened against its head, the dog cowered behind the sofa, whimpering softly with wide, fearful eyes fixed on the looming thunderstorm outside.
  8. Telling: She was excited.
    • Showing: She bounced on her toes, a radiant smile lighting up her face, and her eyes sparkled with an infectious energy that hinted at the joy bubbling within.
  9. Telling: The forest was quiet.
    • Showing: The only sound was the rustle of leaves beneath her boots, the forest holding its breath as if sharing a secret with the solitary hiker.
  10. Telling: The car was old.
    • Showing: Rust clung to the edges of the worn paint, and the engine groaned with each turn of the key, a testament to the countless miles and memories it had accumulated.

In each example, the "showing" version provides more sensory details and paints a richer picture for the reader, allowing them to immerse themselves in the experience rather than being given a simple statement of fact.

  1. ChatGPT generated this text responding to the prompt: "Give several examples of showing rather than telling in good writing".