Show versus Tell, example eleven

From contest entries and critiques that I’ve done, I’ve noticed that often people don’t quite understand what exactly is “showing” and what exactly is “telling.” So, I’m starting this series to give numerous examples so that you can see for yourself the various kinds of “telling” that can occur in your own manuscript, and suggestions for fixing it.

She chewed on her hair, an old habit of hers that she was trying to break.

The second half of that sentence is “telling” the reader about her old habit. There’s a more active way to “show” it by incorporating her emotions into it. For example:

She caught herself chewing her hair and dragged it out of her mouth. Nasty habit. Why couldn’t she break it?

In the example, I’ve delved deeper into her point of view and “shown” the same information in a more active, emotional way.

This might seem like a rather trivial example for “telling,” but think about if you changed all these instances throughout your manuscript. The small changes made would contribute to the whole of the writing, making it just a bit crisper and sharper.


  1. I love your examples of show vs. tell, Camy. Too bad I turned my manuscript in to my agent before I understood about so-called deep POV! I am learning now, though. Thank you!


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