This is the final segment of a four-part series I’m doing on my YouTube Channel about “show, don’t tell.” Today, we’re discussing how to use description and sensory details to show instead of tell. Make your reader experience your story on a visceral level. Don’t tell your reader, “The estate was vast.” Make your reader think, “Wow, that’s a vast estate.”
Here are three ways you can show instead of tell using description, and thus give your reader an experience instead of just a story:
1) Use specific language. Be specific instead of general. Don’t tell your reader something smelled “delicious.” Say it smelled like “apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon.” Don’t say “bird.” Say “cardinal” or “robin.” Use “oak tree” or “fir” instead of just “tree.” Try “scarlet” instead of “red.” The more specific your language, the more intense the picture your reader will see in side his head when he reads your story.
2) Get into your character’s head. When your characters walk into a new environment, what do they see? What do they experience? Don’t just tell your reader the girl walked into a classroom. Instead describe a few things she might notice, such as the cute boy in the front row, the teacher’s strong oriental perfume, or the fact everyone is wearing Vineyard Vines while she can only afford hand-me-downs. If you spend time in each scene getting into your character’s head and writing directly from his or her point of view, you will discover details about your story you never knew existed, and you will also bring life to your world.
3) Use sensory details. We humans experience life through our five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. If you want to bring your story to life for your reader, present your story in the same way we experience life. Give your reader a sensory experience. (To do that effectively, see above. You’re going to have to get into your character’s head.) Ask yourself, what does he see? What does she taste? What do they feel? What does he smell? What does she hear? Pull out the sensory details and scatter them throughout the scene. It will make your story come alive.
This concludes my “Show, Don’t Tell” videos. I’ll be starting new writing videos next week, so be sure to check them out!
If you’re interested, here’s a list of the prior three “Show, Don’t Tell” segments:
For a laugh, you’ll also want to check out my Thanksgiving video on what writers are thankful for.
Do you have M. B. Weston’s Elysian Chronicles on your Kindle yet? Get them now for only $2.99–less than the cost of a Starbucks Latte! (Click here for A Prophecy Forgotten on Kindle and Out of the Shadows on Kindle.)
Be sure to check out M. B. Weston’s YouTube Channel (YouTube.com/TheMBWeston)!
Fantasy, steampunk, pulp, and paranormal novelist M. B. Weston is the author of The Elysian Chronicles, a fantasy series about guardian angel warfare and treason. For more information on M. B. Weston, visit www.mbweston.com. To receive notification of M. B. Weston’s book releases click here to subscribe to Dark Oak Press & Media’s e-newsletter.