Show More than Tell

By Kristen
Updated November 24, 2007

Which Sounds Better

He felt depressed. vs. He held his head in his hands and sobbed.

The waterfall was beautiful. vs. The glistening spray from the falls filled the air like a cloud of fairy dust.

Showing Engages the Audience

Your audience wants to be a part of the story. If you simply tell the story to your audience, the way that a reporter tells the story to the news audience, the audience will be fully aware that they are outside of the story. If you show them the story, show them what the characters are experiencing, then they become a part of the story, actors in the drama, investigators of the mystery.

The Audience Isn't Stupid

Another reason why telling places distance between the audience and the story is that it insults their intelligence. When you say "the waterfall was beautiful" you are suggesting that if you didn't say that the falls were beautiful, your audience would be too stupid to figure it out on their own. If you think that your audience won't figure it out, then you haven't given them enough evidence to help them figure it out.