Creative writing often works better through showing images, not telling explanations. An image brings some scene, object or observation alive, and presents it to your imagination, so that you can picture it, or feel as though you are experiencing it.

To make your writing more interesting you need to follow the motto of SHOW, don’t TELL.
e.g. instead of TELLING the reader ‘He was scared’, SHOW the reader by saying “He trembled”.

Show, Don't Tell Examples

In class, discuss:
  • In the first example, how does the second sentence SHOW that Mary is pretty? Why is this more engaging?
  • In the second example what fact is being TOLD? Why is it better to SHOW this through her actions in the second sentence?


Activity – Your Turn: show, don't tell

Try your hand at showing rather than telling. In your journal, re-write the following sentences so that you are showing the reader, not telling them. TIP: Sometimes, you need to add more actions or detail to be able to show, not tell.
  • She thought it was funny.
  • The car went fast.
  • The shell was beautiful.
  • Mary was his wife and he loved her.
  • The boy hated school.

Activity – Show, Don't Tell in Action

In this activity, you will read, explore an discuss how a writer SHOWS rather than TELLS a story, in an excerpt from Ian Fleming’s Dr. No that describes a poisonous centipede that is crawling up James' body while he's in bed.

Part A: Read: Download and read the excerpt from Ian Fleming's Dr. No
Part B: Explore and gather evidence
How is Ian Fleming's writing effective? How does it influence the reader? Re-read the excerpt.

Copy and complete the table below in your journal.

Evidence (quotation)xx
Short, simple sentences.

answer goes in here
One or two word sentences.

Use of metaphors and similes.

Minor details explained.

Details of bodily reactions.

Static writing – jumping from one idea to another.

Rhetorical questions.

Stating character's thoughts as if they were the narrator's own.

Exclamation marks.

Simple yet descriptive verbs.

Part C: Write
In the discussion forum below, share your thoughts about Ian Fleming's writing. Remember to browse others' responses – they'll help you develop your understanding!

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