When it comes to writing, the show not tell writing approach is a powerful technique that can genuinely elevate your child’s PSLE English composition.
Instead of merely describing a character’s emotions, this method allows young writers to skillfully create scenes that vividly display these feelings, enabling their narratives to come naturally.
If you’re committed to helping your child excel in their writing endeavours, grasping and mastering the show not tell approach can be a game-changer. It has the potential to take their essays from ordinary to spellbinding as it infuses depth and richness into their writing process.
What Is ‘Show Not Tell’?
Show not tell is a writing technique widely embraced by accomplished storytellers. Rather than just offering the reader plain descriptions, this method enables readers to immerse themselves within the narrative and its characters fully.
The writer can take the reader on a more appealing journey by detailing the extent of the characters’ FEELINGS, ACTIONS, SPEECH AND THOUGHTS, , rather than simply telling the audience what is happening.
Such a writing style actively encourages readers to engage their senses and imagination, letting them visualise the story and its characters’ emotions.
Examples Of Show Not Tell Phrases
Rather than directly telling readers about a character’s feelings, using this writing technique can reveal the character’s feelings through actions and context. Let’s delve into specific examples to appreciate better how this method resonates deeply with its audience.
Show Not Tell Phrase For Conveying Happiness
Telling: She looked happy.
Showing: The sun was kissing her rosy red cheeks in the bright daylight.
In the telling example, the emotion is stated plainly, giving readers little to engage with. On the other hand, “The sun was kissing her rosy red cheeks in the bright daylight” paints a vivid picture, providing a sense of warmth and joy.
This showing sentence describes the character’s facial expressions and adds an interesting layer to the world around her. Through such examples, readers can almost hear the happiness and sense the delight, making the story much more immersive.
Show Not Tell Phrase For Conveying Anger
Telling: He was furious.
Showing: He clenched his fist, raised his voice and suddenly slammed his hands on the table.
In the “telling” example, the emotion of anger is directly stated, giving readers a straightforward understanding. However, it doesn’t allow them to delve deeper into how the emotions manifest.
On the other hand, the “showing” instance paints a dynamic picture of the character’s physical reactions, expressing vivid descriptions of his escalating anger. By describing these actions, the story offers readers a more immersive experience, allowing them to feel the intensity of the anger firsthand.
Show Not Tell Phrase For Conveying Sadness
Telling: She is crying.
Showing: Her lips trembled as tears slowly rolled down her cheeks.
In the “telling” example, we are directly informed about the emotion she’s experiencing, but it is a simple statement that doesn’t immerse the reader in the depth of what’s happening.
Conversely, the “showing” example provides a tangible image of her lips trembling and tears rolling, allowing readers to visualise and feel the emotions she’s going through.
Such examples in writing, where emotions are articulated through physical reactions like the mouth crying or lips trembling, make readers deeply connected, letting them feel emotions alongside the characters.
Show Not Tell Phrase For Conveying Fear
Telling: He was terrified.
Showing: His racing heart and shivering body told the whole story.
The “telling” example straightforwardly informs the reader of his fear, yet it lacks depth and fails to give justice to the intensity of his emotions truly.
The “showing” example, however, vividly paints the picture by describing the physical manifestations of his fear, the rapid beating of his heart and the uncontrollable shiver in his body. Such descriptions allow readers to empathise, almost feeling the chill of his dread themselves.
Show Not Tell Writing Tips
As parents guide their children through writing, understanding and applying this technique can transform stories into immersive experiences.
Use Internal Thoughts
Diving into a character’s internal thoughts is a potent method in writing, elevating the reader’s connection to the narrative. It allows for a deeper exploration of emotions, revealing the intricacies of how characters truly feel.
Telling: She was overwhelmed.
Showing: Her thoughts raced, “How did everything spiral out of control so quickly? Can I handle all this?”
Describe The Body Language
Body language is another powerful and often overlooked tool in writing, serving as a visual conduit for a character’s emotions. Our actions, from the tilt of our head to the subtle parting of lips, relay feelings often more poignantly than words.
Consider the simple act of someone blushing and avoiding eye contact, it speaks volumes without uttering a word. The art of showing versus telling in writing mirrors this concept, urging writers to depict emotions through descriptive body language.
Telling: She was nervous about her presentation.
Showing: She constantly fiddled with her necklace, eyes darting around the room, as she waited to present.
Use Strong Verbs
Strong verbs are verbs that reflect extent and vividly describe emotions and actions. For instance, a simple action like walking can be described in numerous ways—did they “walk” or did they “strut”, “amble”, or “dash”? Elevating language with strong verbs ensures that the reader doesn’t just read about feelings, they experience them.
Telling: She felt sad and left the room.
Showing: Her eyes brimming with tears, she shuffled out, every step echoing her desolation.
Create A Sense Of Setting
Just as artwork in picture books complements the text, the setting enriches the tale in novels, anchoring the character’s emotions in a world.
By paying attention to the surroundings and describing them in detail, writers enhance the reader’s immersion in the story.
Telling: He sat in a room.
Showing: He lounged in a dimly lit room, the soft hum of a vintage fan breaking the silence and the scent of old books filling the air.
Dialogue serves as a bridge, connecting readers to the story’s characters beyond the protagonist’s internal monologue. It offers a window into the minds and feelings of other characters, allowing their emotions to unfold through conversation.
Telling: Jane was upset with Mark.
Showing: Jane’s voice quivered, “How could you, Mark?” He could sense the hurt dripping from every word.
Include Sensory Details
Engaging a reader in a story requires more than mere words, it demands sensory details. Including details that tap into the five senses elevates the reader from an observer to an active participant in the narrative.
These sensory cues create a vivid atmosphere, making readers feel like they’re truly present, experiencing the character’s emotions firsthand.
Telling: She sat by the beach.
Showing: She settled onto the soft sand, the salty sea breeze tangling her hair, the gentle lapping of waves soothing her ears, and the warmth of the sun caressing her skin.
Conclusion About Show Not Tell Phrases
Empowering your child’s writing skills with show not tell techniques can open doors to academic excellence and beyond the classroom.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Show Not Tell Phrases
Are There Specific Genres Or Types Of Writing Where The Show Not Tell Writing Approach Is More Effective?
Show not tell is effective in writing recounts as it engage the reader deeply.. However, genres, especially descriptive writing will benefit from vivid, show-based descriptions. Ultimately, it’s about striking the right balance for the audience.
How Can I Help My Child Practise The Show Not Tell Technique At Home?
Encourage your child to describe scenes or emotions without directly naming them. Reading books together and pointing out “showing” examples also helps. Writing prompts or exercises focused on description can be valuable, too.
How Can The Show Not Tell Technique Benefit My Child’s School Essays And Compositions?
Implementing show not tell writing techniques enhances your child’s writing, making it more vivid and engaging. Teachers often appreciate this depth, which can reflect positively in grading and feedback.
How Early Can My Child Start Practising The Show Not Tell Technique In Their Writing?
While the technique benefits all ages, students typically grasp it better from P4 onwards. However, introducing simpler elements of descriptive writing can start earlier as it helps to lay a strong foundation.