Show Not Tell

I thought I would share a writing tip with you today about SHOW NOT TELL. Have you ever heard of that phrase? It’s when writers show their character’s emotions rather than tell them. It makes the story far more enticing, giving the reader a chance to share in the same feelings.

This can be done through physical and mental responses to situations. If you’re feeling sad, how do you behave and how do you feel inside?

Here are some physical and mental signs to various emotions.



Tears trickled down her cheeks. Her bottom lip wobbled. Her shoulders drooped. She lay her head in her arms. She dug in her pockets for another tissue.

Her eyes stung. Her chest tightened. Her body felt cold. A lump formed in the back of her throat.



He bounced from foot to foot. He couldn’t stop grinning. His eyes sparkled. He couldn’t stay still.

He felt breathless. His pulse raced. His chest felt so light. Bubbles welled inside of him.



His eyes widened. His jaw dropped. He yelped. His hands flew to his face.

He felt dizzy and disorientated. Adrenalin rushed through him. He felt like he’d been dunked in water. His heart stopped.



She couldn’t stop smiling. Her eyes danced. She thrust a fist into the sky. She squealed.

Her hands tingled. She felt so alive. Warmth radiated through her. She felt so light.



His nostrils flared. He gritted his teeth. He clenched his jaw. His eyes were cold and hard.

His heartbeat pounded. His body tensed. His muscles trembled. His stomach twisted.



Her ears and cheeks turned red. She shuffled her feet. She refused to look anyone in the eyes. She squirmed.

Her cheeks burned. Her breathing quickened. She hid behind her hands. She felt sweat pool above her lip.

All these little phrases help add to the tension and atmosphere of a story. Think about how your body reacts when you feel certain emotions. If you can incorporate them into your story, you will help paint a picture for your reader.Show Not Tell

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