Writing Prompt – Emotion, Show or Tell?

I’m listening to a very interesting audio book about writing emotion in fiction. The author looks at both the Show, Don’t Tell camp and the Just Tell camp. Both sides have interesting views on emotion.

Show, Don’t Tell

Use visual cues to show emotion ie crying, sobbing, wretchedness etc.

Just Tell

Inner dialogue is best for this, but outer dialogue is used as well.

Both camps agree emotion should be discussed, it helps the reader relate(hopefully) to the character and ideally, to feel something themselves.

The author also recognizes there are a great many authors(myself included) who straddle both camps when writing, and emotion is just one more thing for us to either show, or tell, according to what we think suits the scene,

What are your thoughts about this? Do you think emotions should be Shown or Told or are you a fence sitter too who likes both according to the situation?

Personally, I have trouble writing emotions because of how I was raised. I feel emotions just fine, you can see that in my writing in Crimson Knight. Harsh emotions such as anger aren’t that hard to show or tell. Softer emotions such as sorrow are harder to express.

I use the terms “hard” and “soft” as generalizations. There is nothing soft about sorrow or grief, they can actually be physically damaging whereas as anger or fear can be fleeting leaving nothing behind to show they were there.

The author of the book whose name I can’t remember – book and author both – is of the opinion in order to write emotions, an author must not be afraid of them. They must be willing to feel the emotions themselves. I get immersed in my writing so I do end up feeling the emotions of the characters even when I don’t mean to.

Again, what are your thoughts on this? Readers. I’d like to hear what you have to say as well.

See you on the flipside and don’t forget your towel and sonic screwdriver!!


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