Struggle With Show, Don’t Tell? Try This Ultimate Description Toolkit

mywritingkitreversed2-1Today I’m sharing some amazing tools as part of Verbaleyze’s  My Writing Toolkit event, in hopes you might find some new weapons in the battle for strong, compelling description.

For those not familiar with VerbalEyze, they are a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves to foster, promote, and support the development and professional growth of emerging young adult writers. How awesome is that?

So if you’re age 13 to 22, you really should look into how Verbaleyze can help you develop your writing. Okay, onto my Tool Kit. I hope you like the resources I’ve put together. 🙂

Show, Don’t Tell: The Ultimate Description Toolkit 

Show, Don’t Tell. It’s one of those things that we hear over and over, but what does it REALLY mean? There’s a lot of contention around it–some assume that “show, don’t tell” we must show everything, tell nothing, and of course, this isn’t right.

Show, Don’t Tell is one of those phrases that is oh-so-important to get right, yet requires a heavy dose of good judgment. Because it isn’t as much about showing OR telling, but knowing when to do each, and how to be effective at both.

Confused? Don’t be. Think of it this way…

Show Don’t Tell is a promise you make to readers to give them a special, emotion-driven sensory experience that will be both captivating and memorable.

To fulfill this promise, we must make the most of our description. There’s no room for empty description and filler. Every word should earn the right to be included, so we want to do double or triple duty with our descriptive choices so we’re not only conveying “a sense of place.”

Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about what Show, Don’t Tell looks like.

If there’s one thing we have here at WHW, it’s tools to help you. Because Showing and Telling is such a striggle for many, I’ve created some checklists that outline when to SHOW, and when to TELL.

(HINT: click to enlarge & don’t forget to Pin!)

When to show_One Stop_For_WritersWhen to Tell_ One Stop For Writers1

 

Showing will also convey a character’s emotions through their body language, actions, dialogue, and if it is the POV character, their thoughts, and visceral sensations. You might find these helpful:

ONE STOP Showing Emotion_Whole Body

Stages of Attraction_Both Sexes

 

 

It’s important we also convey the setting to readers by using the 5 senses, as well as utilizing mood and other techniques, to create deep emotional pull.

 The Setting Thesaurus_Sensory Details The Setting Thesaurus_Mood Building

Show, Don’t Tell is also part of deep story, using various elements like Deep POV, Character Motivation, Goals & Stakes to show what your character sees, feels, wants, and needs.

Conflict Options and Secrets also create pressure for your character to show readers who she or he is. To see more checklists for all of these, visit our One Stop For Writers Pinterest Board.

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Show, Don’t Tell storytelling power is also heightened by using specific, rich language combined with high-level fiction craft.

Tighten your descriptive writing using these tools:

Crutch Words List_Writers Helping Writers Download

Crutch Words List

Verb Tool

Weak Verb Converter Tool

 

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Finally, to really challenge whether you’ve shown effectively, test your story against this ultimate critique checklist. (It isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it will ensure your story is hitting all the high notes!

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Ultimate Critique Checklist

And of course, if you want more formal help, our collection of thesaurus books are your greatest weapon when it comes to choosing description with impact:

Writers Helping Writers Descriptive Thesaurus Collection

 

Or visit our ultimate Library Resource, One Stop For Writers, where we have 11 description thesauruses (and more coming) to choose from, plus many other features and unique tools for writers. Pulling readers in via meaningful description has never been easier.

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Like this post? I have another one like it:  Ultimate Character Building Toolkit

Happy writing! 🙂

Angela

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About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in About Us, Basic Human Needs, Character Arc, Character Flaws, Character Traits, Character Wound, Characters, Conflict, Description, Dialogue, Emotion, Emotion Thesaurus Guide, Empathy, High Stakes, Motivation, One Stop For Writers, Positive & Negative Thesaurus Guides, Revision and Editing, Setting Thesaurus Guides, Show Don't Tell, Subtext, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons, Writing Resources. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Struggle With Show, Don’t Tell? Try This Ultimate Description Toolkit

  1. Pingback: Writing Links Round Up 12/12-12/17 – B. Shaun Smith

  2. Peter Lewis Holmes says:

    Solid gold!

  3. Pingback: Monday Must-Reads [09.12.16]

  4. Marlene Amero says:

    That would be great.

  5. Cool tools. And what a great “eyedea” in VerbalEyze.

  6. Oh, Ange, what a gift you’ve given us here. Gift # 10,000,000,000,000.52 Ha. Thank you, thank you. Sharing.

  7. LOVE all of this. I think I’ll keep it open while I write! Shared with my writing students too. Many thanks. Off to Pinterest these go!

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