Showing instead of telling is a big obstacle for many writers. Sometimes writers tell instead of show without even realizing it! Here are three words that insidiously introduce telling into your writing. Get rid of them (or else)!
He was obviously in a bad mood.
She obviously had a headache.
It was obvious that she didn’t want to be there.
He clearly thought she was full of crap.
She was clearly happy about the news.
It was clear she had better things to do.
He stepped back, indicating that he didn’t want to be that close to her.
She frowned, clearly indicating that she was still upset about their fight.
The man indicated that she should sit down.
Why They Suck
Anytime a writer uses a sentence like the ones above, I want to jump up and down screaming, “Cheater, cheater, cheater!” All of these sentences are telling rather than showing. They’re cheap, easy, zero-effort ways of making a point.
Sometimes these words are also used to stretch the point of view (POV). If your POV character doesn’t have any way of knowing something, you can simply say that it’s clear, obvious, or indicated. Cheaters!
Stretch yourself as a writer, find ways to show how characters think and feel. Use expressions, body language, tone of voice. And sometimes just let your readers breathe! Give them a chance to draw their own conclusions. They’re smarter than you think!
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