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As you know, Write for a Reason creative writing tips are all about helping you give your novel for children/teens that X factor, so you can grip your readers! This week’s writing tip is useful for whatever age group you write for, so do feel free to pass it on to friends who write fiction of any description.

Showing not telling is a great way to add X factor to your novels. We’ve discussed it before, but there’s no harm in mentioning it again, because if you can use the technique to your advantage, you will set yourself above the competition!

You probably “show not tell” sometimes without thinking, but there may be times when you get caught up in the “telling” and could do with a bit more “showing”. This might take a bit of extra work… but it’s worth it, because it will grip your readers and take them right into your story with you.

Suppose your protagonist enters a house, but no one is there. Let’s call her Andrea. Has the house been abandoned, or is it still inhabited? Hmm. What about if Andrea detects a faint smell of cooking when she walks in? This immediately lets Andrea know know people have been here not long before, and makes sure your readers are right there with her, smelling that cooking smell. Or Andrea may see fresh flowers in a vase, or run her fingers over a polished table to find there is no dust… the possibilities are endless!

If you use “showing” like this, you don’t have to write: “It looked like people had been there not long before.” You’ve shown your readers. They can feel the polished table, see the flowers in the vase, and can smell the cooking smell. (And the more of the five senses you use, the better!)

Why not read through your work in progress, and see if there are any places you could add a bit of “show not tell”? Let me know if you do – it’s always lovely to hear from you. 🙂

Trust that helps! Happy showing not telling. See you again next week. 🙂

Janet x

P.S. I wrote about Show not tell in a previous post (from 2015 – can you believe we’ve been here that long?) – do check it out if you’re not exactly sure what showing not telling is. 🙂

What do cooking smells, fresh flowers in a vase and a polished table have in common?
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