Today 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 struggle for many, I’ve created some checklists that outline when to SHOW, and when to TELL.
(You can download these and many more at One Stop for Writers).
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.
There are many different tip sheets on how to Move Beyond Facial Expressions and how the body can be used to describe emotion, so please check out the link above if you need help.
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.
Strong sensory description is what helps readers feel involved in the story, like they are experiencing everything alongside the POV character.
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 One Stop for Writers.
Show, Don’t Tell storytelling power is also heightened by using specific, rich language combined with high-level fiction craft.
We have several downloadable PDFs that can really help you in this department. You can find them all here.
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!
Whew, so many resources for showing! Everything should be a snap moving forward, right?
If you think you might still need a touch of help, our description thesaurus books are your greatest weapon when it comes to choosing description with impact:
And visit our ultimate creativity portal, One Stop For Writers, where we have 14 description thesauruses (and counting) to choose from, plus many other features and unique tools for writers. Pulling readers in via meaningful description has never been easier.
Like this post? I have another one like it: Ultimate Character Building Toolkit
Happy writing! 🙂
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.