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How to master the art of 'Show, Don't tell' in your writing

Unlock the power of captivating writing with writing coach Sarah Kate Ishii


blog post article about how to master the art of show, don't tell in creative writing. Guest writer: Sarah Kate Ishii, writing coach, published author, publishing consultant and founder of StorycraftGateway.com



Sarah Kate Ishii, writing coach, publishing consultant, founder of Storycraft Gateway



Ever found yourself lost in a book, feeling like you're right there in the thick of the action? That's the magic of 'showing' in writing. Instead of simply telling readers what's happening, it's about painting vivid scenes, evoking emotions, and letting readers experience the story for themselves.


Well-meaning writing advice givers often tell us how to

show, don't tell

in the hopes it will help us make our writing better. But no-one really tells us what that means or how to do it.


Today Storycraft Gateway is going to guide you on the how of showing, not telling. To help enhance you're writing and give your readers the best immersive reading experience we know you want to give them.


 

How to master the art of

'show, don't tell' in your writing



» Craft Concrete Sensory Experiences


Transport your readers to another world by appealing to their senses.

Think sound, smell, touch,

the elements of the senses we often miss out in writing.


Let your readers feel the chill of the wind, hear the crunch of footsteps on snow, and smell the aroma of freshly baked bread. It'll paint a whole new picture for your readers than just telling them what things look like.


»  Reveal Through Actions and Reactions



Actions speak louder than words.


Show characters' emotions through their
gestures, expressions, and movements.

Let their reactions speak volumes about their inner turmoil or joy.


Instead of saying 'Elemere was angry', show us how she's angry by having her stomp through the streets, bumping carelessly into passers by, and turning to give her friend a scowl before throwing her door open and slamming it behind her.


»  The Power of Dialogue


Dialogue isn't just about what characters say;

it's about how they say it.

Use tone, pacing, and choice of words to convey emotions, relationships, and conflicts with subtlety and depth. Do they speak through gritted teeth? Do they yawn and struggle to finish their sentence and trail off? Do they speak really kindly to one person but then really stonily to another?


Think about conversations you have and those you hear around you. How do people speak with each other? When they're tired? Upset? When they're distracted? When they're talking with someone they love vs someone they dislike?


»  Illustrate Character Growth Through Choices


Actions define characters.

Show their development through the decisions they make in challenging situations. Let readers witness their courage, resilience, and growth firsthand.


A character who started off quite cowardly and unwilling to get involved in the main action might show their development through the story by starting to chip into conversations, offering to help with collecting resources, and then in their big climax moment, they jump in and save someone else in a fight they'd ordinarily run away from.



»  Paint Pictures with Metaphors and Similes



Turn the ordinary into the extraordinary with vivid imagery. Use metaphors and similes to infuse your writing with richness and depth, inviting readers to see the world through a new lens.


Instead of explaining that a character feels lost, you could say

they felt like 'a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly'.

The challenge with this though is using too many clichés. It's all well and good to use metaphors and similes, but over using them can frustrate the readers, especially when they're all from the same old list we see everywhere!


»  Infuse Environments with Meaning



The world around your characters isn't just background noise;

it's a reflection of their inner worlds.

Use their interactions with the environment to reveal their emotions, fears, and desires.


If a character is nervous, you could describe them fidgeting with objects, knocking things over, or repeatedly tapping their foot. These subtle cues allow readers to infer the character's emotions through their interactions with the surroundings, and paints the scene more wholly for your readers.


 

Ready to take your storytelling to the next level? Book your personalised 1-on-1 coaching session with writing and publishing mentor Sarah Kate Ishii, founder of Storycraft Gateway, today. Whether you're struggling to craft compelling scenes or looking to refine your narrative voice, Sarah will provide tailored guidance to help you unleash your full potential as a writer.




Sarah Kate Ishii, writing coach, publishing consultant, founder of Storycraft Gateway

Don't let your story languish in the shadows. Let's get your readers fully immersed through strong storycrafting.




How to master the art of 'show, don't tell' in your writing

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