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  • Writer's pictureSarah Tidball

Creating an immersive vision - Show don't tell

As a writer, it's easy to fall into the trap of telling instead of showing. While we may have a clear vision of the story in our heads, it can be a challenge to convey that vision to our readers. This is where the concept of "show don't tell" comes in.

"Show don't tell" is a writing technique that encourages the use of sensory details and vivid descriptions to help readers experience the story for themselves. Instead of simply telling readers what's happening or how characters feel, the goal is to paint a picture with words so that readers can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the story for themselves.

As a very visual person, I find that "show don't tell" is an essential tool in my writing arsenal. When I write, I want my readers to see the vision I have in my head. I want them to experience the story in a way that's rich and colourful, and the best way to achieve this is through the use of sensory details.

For example, instead of saying "Shae was scared," I could write, "Shae's heart raced as she looked over her shoulder, her palms slick with sweat. She could feel the prickle of fear crawling up her spine." By using sensory details like Shae's racing heart and sweaty palms, I'm able to show readers the fear she's experiencing, rather than just telling them.

Another example is if I wanted to describe a beautiful sunset on Lilania. Instead of saying "The sunset was beautiful," I could write, "The sky was alive with colours – deep reds and oranges melting into pinks and yellows. The sun sank lower, the horizon on fire with streaks of gold." By using descriptive language and sensory details, I'm able to create a vivid picture of this new and beautiful world in the reader's mind.

Of course, like many writers, I still find it challenging to incorporate "show don't tell" into my writing. It's easy to slip into telling mode and forget to engage the reader's senses. However, I've found that the more I practice, the easier it becomes. One useful exercise is to take a scene you've written and try to describe it using only sensory details. This can help you identify areas where you've relied too heavily on telling, and give you ideas for how to show the scene instead.

"Show don't tell" is a vital technique for any writer who wants to engage their readers and create a vivid, immersive world. By using sensory details and descriptive language, we can transport readers into our stories and make them feel like they're right there with our characters. It takes practice and effort, but the results are well worth it. So next time you're editing your work, remember to show, not tell, and watch your writing come alive.

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