Show, don’t tell to make your writing more evocative

If you want to make your writing more interesting (and if you don’t, you’re on the wrong website), you need to make it evocative – and a great way to do this is to show, don’t tell.

Show, don’t tell is a classic writing technique that’s all about painting a picture in the reader’s head by using description and details.

For example, compare the following sentences:

David was upset


David ran out of the conference room, tears welling in his eyes, only just making it to the bathroom before bawling like a baby.

The first sentence states a fact: it tells us something. The second sentence goes further, however, by showing us what happened – which pulls us into the scene.

You can apply the show, don’t tell technique to almost anything you need to write.

For example, let’s just say you work in PR and represent a cocktail bar. Don’t just say your client’s martinis are the best in the city (and as someone who used to be a bar reviewer, trust me when I say this is exactly what most bars have in their press releases). Instead, explain why they’re the best, such as by mentioning they’re made with an exotic gin distilled by monks and they’re served with organic olives stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes.

And yes, just writing that makes me want a martini.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov

From a marketing perspective, this advice is closely linked to another well-known saying: don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.


Learn more by enrolling in the Writing Essentials online course

Taught by a former newspaper editor and journalist, this writing course teaches all the basics, including:

  • how to write in the active voice
  • how to use positive language
  • using the right tone of voice and style
  • cutting copy
  • making your intros stronger
  • writing in plain English
  • how to write in the inverted pyramid style
  • top 10 news criteria (what makes a story interesting)
  • frontloading content
  • grammar and punctuation
  • proofreading tips
  • writing great headlines.

Fun and practical, this course is filled with plenty of exercises to allow you to put theory into practice.

Find out more and enrol


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