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Learning from "Show, don't tell" examples in fiction is akin to studying a masterclass in the art of storytelling.

Mastering the Art: Learning from Show Don’t Tell Examples in Fiction

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The timeless adage “Show, don’t tell” is the secret sauce that transforms ordinary storytelling into a captivating and immersive experience. This writing principle encourages authors to create vivid images and scenes, allowing readers to engage with the story deeply. In this exploration of “Show Don’t Tell” in fiction, we’ll delve into engaging examples that highlight the power of this technique to breathe life into narratives.         

Emotion Through Action 

Telling: She was angry.

Showing: Her fists clenched at her sides, and her jaw tightened. The room seemed to shrink in the heat of her frustration as she shot him a glare that could melt steel.

In this example, rather than flatly stating the character’s emotion, the writer uses physical cues and vivid imagery to convey the depth of anger. Readers can almost feel the tension in the air and sense the character’s boiling emotions through the clenched fists and the piercing glare.

Creating Atmosphere

Telling: It was a gloomy day.

Showing: The sky hung low with heavy, charcoal clouds, casting a shadow over the landscape. The air was thick with the impending rain, and the world seemed to huddle under the weight of the brooding storm.

Here, instead of straightforwardly describing the weather, the writer paints a picture of the gloominess through the imagery of low-hanging clouds and the anticipation of rain. This approach allows readers to feel the atmosphere rather than just acknowledging it, immersing them in the scene.

show don't tell examples
These examples serve as beacons, guiding aspiring writers to go beyond the surface, to engage readers not just with the plot but with the very essence of the story.

Characterization through Dialogue

Telling: He was a confident leader.

Showing: “I’ve faced tougher challenges than this before breakfast,” he declared, his voice unwavering. The team gathered around him, reassured by the certainty in his tone.

In this instance, the writer doesn’t merely state that the character is a confident leader. Instead, they reveal this trait through the character’s dialogue and the reactions of those around him, allowing readers to witness the confidence rather than being told about it.

Sensory Engagement

Telling: It was a delicious meal.  

Showing: The aroma of garlic and herbs wafted through the air, teasing their taste buds before the first bite. The pasta, perfectly al dente, melted in their mouths, each flavor dancing on their tongues like a culinary symphony.

This example moves beyond the mere declaration of a delicious meal. By incorporating sensory details like aroma and taste, the writer invites readers to experience the meal vicariously, enhancing the richness of the narrative.

Evoking Setting Through Description

Telling: It was a spooky forest.

Showing: The ancient trees loomed like spectral sentinels, their twisted branches reaching out like skeletal fingers that cast eerie shadows on the forest floor. The only sound was the haunting whisper of the wind through the gnarled branches.

The writer needs to settle for a more balanced description of a spooky forest in this case. Instead, they paint a vivid picture that allows readers to feel the atmosphere of the setting. The use of words like “ancient,” “twisted,” and “haunting” evokes a sense of eeriness and mystery.

show don't tell examples
Showcasing a character’s emotions through actions and dialogue, and allowing readers to infer and interpret rather than outright stating information are the hallmarks of this technique.


“Show Don’t Tell” in fiction is more than a rule; it’s an art form that transforms narratives into living, breathing experiences. These examples show how the technique enhances storytelling by allowing readers to engage with characters, settings, and emotions on a visceral level. By leveraging descriptive language, dialogue, and sensory details, authors can create worlds that readers don’t merely observe but inhabit. So, the next time you find yourself crafting a story, remember these examples and let your words paint a canvas that captivates the imagination of your readers.

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Hunter, Stella exemplifies the transformative power of character development. Initially subscribing to Raymond’s mainstream ideals of genetic perfection and control, Stella’s encounters on Earth, especially with John, challenge her beliefs. Secure your copy for an interstellar experience today! 

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