ADULT LEARNING CENTRE
On with the Show! Are You Showing or Just Telling?
January 28, 2004
Many writers will say that there is really only one rule for good
writing: Show! Don't tell! In today's class we will learn more about
this most important rule.
Showing versus Telling
To "show" means to demonstrate. To "tell" means to assert.
"He is sloppy" is telling.
"His shoelaces are untied, his socks are mismatched, his shirt is
untucked, and his face is unwashed" is showing.
In order to convince your readers, make sure to show with
details exactly what you mean. Save your assertions for the topic and
It is not always easy being a parent, a child, a brother or a sister.
Show the reader your experience in one of these family roles and
do not tell us about the behaviour you show. For example, you
could write about a time you and your sister disagreed about sharing a
favourite treat. (you may write one generalization for the topic
and concluding sentence only)
First, she grabbed the treat from my hand, and said, "That's mine!"
But, I snatched it right back and ran from the room saying, "I'm going
to tell mom on you!"
for this topic
Assignment (second version):
Canadians behave in interesting and different ways from the people
who live in other countries.
Show, using examples from your own experiences in Canada, some of
these unique behaviours.
For example use an example of a behaviour to show: "In Canada, when a
person bumps into another person, often both of them will say, 'Excuse
me' or 'I'm sorry!'" We may then assert (tell): "Canadians are
quite polite (or maybe just strange!)."
Write a well-constructed
paragraph of about 125 words.
"Crazy Canadians!" and "Unusual
"Canadians in My Eyes"
Please also visit your Advanced
Composition Class Page where you can access current and past
For more assignments, visit our