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Show and Tell

For any new writers, not just young adult writers, this is most important lesson to learn. You need to show your readers the story and not tell your readers the story. This may sound wrong because as writers aren’t we story-tellers? Yes we are, but let’s look at the sentences below”

Upon hearing the news, Frank became angry.

Upon hearing the news, Frank grimaced and clenched his fists together. He wanted to to punch something, someone, even this innocent messenger. Grinding his teeth together to keep from spouting profanities, he let out a low growl.

The first example accurately describes Frank’s reaction. It tells us he became angry. The second example, however, we go into details about how that anger expressed itself both physically and mentally. Note that nowhere in the second example does it explicitly state that Frank is angry, yet we know what’s going on and are pulled into the scene because of it. Think about it. You really don’t want to be in front of the second Frank, do you?

I can gives many more examples if anyone asks, but I think the above clearly illustrates the point.

Novice writers often tell their stories. Check your work and make show you’re showing as much as possible. You do not need to get overly descriptive, but you don’t want to simply state facts.

Any questions?