Online Writing Workshops – Showing vs. Telling.
What Is the Difference Between Showing and Telling?
The difference between showing and telling is the difference between experiencing a dream and telling someone about that dream. Remember that vivid dream you had from which you woke up frightened, giddy, exhilarated, or crying? Do you also remember the reaction of people when you tried to tell them about your amazing dream? Forced smiles, bored eyes, impatient shifting in chairs.
That’s because you told them about your dream, you didn’t recreate it so that they could experience the same emotional intensity that you had. You probably described your own feelings and reactions, but you didn’t evoke those same feelings and reactions from your audience. In essence, writing is the same as telling a dream, except this is a dream that you conjure in your imagination, then try to craft so the reader experiences all the emotion, suspense, and excitement first-hand. To do that successfully, you have to show the dream in a way that provokes the reaction you want. Rather than describe the exhilaration of a rollercoaster ride, shove the readers onto the cart, flip the switch, and let them hold on for their lives.