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-South Africa

  • DiGi Publishers

Show don't tell


How to show emotions in your writing


Emotional “Show don’t Tell” method


a) How does a character show interest:

Shows open body posture, light touches.Paying attention and is not distracted by surroundings or things that happens in the background.Keeps strong eye contact.Smiles, nods or frowns (concentrating). Enters the speaker’s personal space. Leans forward. Asks questions. Speaking in short bursts, adding to the conversation.


b) Showing disinterest:



1) Showing closed body posture: arms crossed; legs crossed.

2) Be easily distracted; gaze that wanders/

3) Poor eye contact

4) Doesn’t show much emotions

5) Shrugs

6) Actions lack energy or attention

7) Angling away from the speaker

8) Don’t participate in conversations


c) How does a character displays nerves

1) Uses self-comfort touches (like rubbing on arm/ wringing hands/ rubs hand over face)

2) Fiddling with something like fingers/ watch/ touching things

3) Jittery

4) Jerky movements

5) Difficulty sitting still

6) Speech hesitations

7) Doesn’t comment on things

8) Swallowing more than usual

9) Touching her/his throat

10) Avoids eye contact- looking down or away


d) How does a character shows frustration or anger


1) Intense stare

2) Rarely blinks

3) Rigid neck

4) Tightness in voice, low tone

5) Speaking to the point, usually short sentences

6) Tension is showed in facial and muscles (Set jaw, hands clenched in fist)

7) Curled hands, strong grip

8) Rapid or uneven breathing


e) How does a character shows lying


1) Blocking and closed body posture

2) Speaks fast

3) changes the topic

4) Gives misdirections /interpretations of events

5) Darting eye contact

6) Flashing a smile

7) Delayed reactions from thinking about how to respond/what to say

8) Steering the conversation, cutting people off

9) Be defensive

10) Keep personal distance

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