Show Not Tell

A writing exercise


Have everyone put two words for emotions on scraps of paper. Put the pieces of paper into a hat. Each person picks two. Everyone has to write a piece (poem, prose, doesn’t matter) where the character feels those two emotions but you are not allowed to use the words or any synonyms for the word. This is to encourage people to show not tell—i.e., have a character slam a door instead of saying “Bill was angry.”

Second part of the exercise: Everyone reads out their piece and has to guess which emotions the writer chose.