Wednesday Writers Wisdom: Show Vs Tell Character Description by Emma T. Gitani

We’ve all heard these expressions. Show don’t tell. Give meaningful description but don’t make  a laundry list. The example below takes on showing character description without creating a laundry list.

Laundry List Example:

Matt started magic school two weeks ago, and he watched the girl who sat at his lunch table. She was skinny and had dyed-green hair, freckles, and gold eyes.

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What do we really know about her now? What is your image? I’m reading this and think oh the wicked witch of the west’s daughter.

Showing Example:

Matt started magic school two weeks ago, he still didn’t get what this girl at lunch was going for with her dyed-green hair. The frizzed-tangled mess sure grabbed your attention, just not in a good way.

He took a bite from his homemade sandwich and peeked at her, curious. Her new school-uniform hung off her skinny shoulders a size too big. Matt wondered if she was trying to hide something underneath and blushed. He rummaged in the lunch-bag for a drink and the stupid carrot sticks his mom put in spilled on to the table.

He snatched them back and looked around embarrassed. She didn’t acknowledge the mishap, and his eyes locked on the freckles that stood out against her pale cheeks.

She must have sensed his stare, because she glanced up and gave him a shy smile. He saw the glint of humor in her golden eyes, and he knew her secret. She was beautiful.

Ahhh how sweet Matt is! And of course the new girl likes him too.

Hope this helps and leave your character descriptions in the comments. No laundry lists or dialogue, please. And Go!

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Emma T. Gitani

Emma T. Gitani is a mother and Nonna, Italian for that dreaded g- word, living in South Florida. Starting out her career as a technical writer and editor, she then moved to systems testing to fulfill her desire to 'break things'. She finally settled down to use her BA in Education writing stories for children and young adults. In October 2014, tragedy struck and her cousin passed away. Annie had always been her cheerleader, encouraging Emma to go for it and write a book. In her honor, Emma is now writing fiction with a purpose to share, working hard to get that book finished.
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