writers tips / writing

Writer’s Tip #41: Don’t Tell What You Can Show

writers resourcesWhen you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Show an emotion rather than tell us it happened.The reader would much rather see a man’s anger in scene than have you tell that the character was angry:

Angry, John punched his fist through the wall.

People don’t usually punch holes in walls. One reason they would is they’re angry. Trust your reader to understand this based on the balance of the scene. Leave out angry. Just say, John punched his fist through the wall.

Here’s another:

Stunned, she froze midstride and stared at the horse.

Leave out stunned. You’ve described the actions of a stunned person so stating the emotion becomes redundant. Never waste the readers time. If you’re not sure you got your message across, rewrite–don’t add more words.

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