Showing Emotion on the page
(Without it being Telly)
By Janice Seagraves
One of the hardest lessons in writing is to show emotion on the page without it being telly. You've all heard of Show and Don't Tell, but what does that really mean?
Simply put Telly is telling something that happened as if to a friend. Showing is taking your reader though the scene in such a way that they feel the emotion.
Here are a few examples:
Telly: She made him mad. He wanted to hit her.
Show: He fisted his hands and ground his teeth. His gut boiled. Grabbing a plate, he threw it against the wall. "That'll be your head next!"
Throwing something is a good way to show extreme anger, but be careful that your characters don't end up breaking all the dishes in the house. People who are angry also fist their hands, ground their teeth, breath noisily, and bare their teeth, crack knuckles, and their nails bite into their palms.
Telly: The doorknob turned. She was so scared she hid behind the couch. "Paw, won't find me here."
Show: The doorknob turned. Ice went through her middle. She hid behind the couch. "Paw, won't find me here."
You feel cold when you scared. It can knife through you, or fill your stomach with ice. A chill can go down your character's back. Also, someone's face turns ashen, trembling lips and chin, freezing, feeling rooted to the spot, tight shoulders, leg muscles tightening, getting ready to run, looking all around, especially behind, a shrill voice, or lowering the voice to a whisper.
Telly: She was so happy she could fly. "I have my dream job."
Show: She kept repeating the words over and over, you're hired. Her cheeks hurt from grinning so big and her stomach did a little flip. "I have my dream job."
Squealing, screaming, shouting, whooping and hollering can all show extreme happiness or elation. So can running a victory lap, dancing in place, laughing, and throwing something in the air.
Telly: He loved her very much and wanted to make love to her.
Show with an excerpt from Windswept Shores: He sat next to her, and leaned over, pressed his lips against hers, gradually deepening the kiss. Her scent filled his nose, a light perfume with her own personal aroma. His pulse raced, and his mind spiraled with thoughts of being inside of her. He burned to make love to her.
Windswept Shores first time in Trade paperback: https://www.createspace.com/4084680
Windswept Shores on the Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AS9NDNO