Top 5 Ways to Use TELLs in Your Writing

“Show, don’t tell” is only half the story.

You’ve probably gotten the advice that you should SHOW in your writing. You should give readers a front row seat to the action of your story by describing all the sights, sounds, and even smells of a scene.

That advice might help you slow down and provide more detail for your key scenes. It’s also a good reminder that a story is different from a summary: a story should have action, suspense, and immediacy.

But if you go pick up any book and skim through it, you’ll notice that it’s made up of a mix of showing and telling. What do those different kinds of writing look like?

SHOWs describe people (actions, reactions, facial expressions, movements) places, and events using vivid language related to the five senses. They make events unfold in real time.

TELLs summarize events and make claims orĀ  draw conclusions about people and places. They condense and speed up time.

Can you imagine how long a novel would be if we had to watch every moment of it in real time, complete with the descriptions of the reactions of everyone involved? It would be more like reading a court transcript than a story.

Sometimes, the best thing for a story is the author stepping in and drawing conclusions, explaining, or even fastforwarding, and that’s exactly what TELLs allow you to do.

Check out our top 5 picks for improving your story by using TELLS.

 

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