How do I show, not tell the following?1.The athletes think they are cool.   2. Mother Nature absorbed us. I need showing sentences!!

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The adage "show, don't tell" has always struck me as a confusing one. After all, it's talking about writing and, when we write, we by definition tell: I have told you something in these two-and-a-half lines of type! Maybe a better way to say it (I forget the person who originated that adage), is "demonstrate or illustrate, don't explicate or explain." Here is explaining: Josh was arrogant and vain because he had the best free throw and the best hair. He never even said hello to a studetn who wasn't a Varsity athelete. He never said "Excuse me" when he bumped into someone in the hall.

Here is demonstrating or illustrating (I hope): Josh climbed out of his Mazda MX-5 Miada, stormy blue to match his Varsity jacket. Though his tastfully dissheveled hair was perfect, he ran a hand through it as though to improve it, knowing you can't improve perfection. Timmy, the Sophomore ball boy for the B-ball team, walked past Josh, as every morning, and called out a hopeful, "Good morning!" as every morning, only to be greeted by a blank but condescending stare trimmed by Josh's perpetual smug smile ... as every morning.

Well, you get the drift. The first one, explicating/explaining, is equal to "tell." The second one, demonstrate and illustrate, is equal to "show." In the first one I told you that Josh, an athlete, thinks he's cool. In the second one, I showed you that he thinks he's cool: arrogant, vain, unfeeling, rude, inconsiderate. I "show" this by putting Josh in real-life circumstances and letting his inner being take over and show itself off: his car, his car color, his hair, his stare at Timmy; his Varsity jacket. 

This beginning for "athelets who think they are cool" should get you started and provide you with a clearer understanding of what "show" and "tell" are actually about: demonstrate/illustrate and explain/explicate.


Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mark Twain once said:

"Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream."

When writing, the difference between telling and showing is in providing bold imagery, diction, and figurative language.   If you want to show the athletes thinking they are cool, then provide interesting, memorable details.

1.The athletes think they are cool.  

The already-bored jocks at the back of the room rolled their eyes at my speech about the importance of homework. 

2. Mother Nature absorbed us.

Soon we were lost in the dense green of the bog and the haze of a million stinging midges.

Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are two examples of "showing not telling" as concerns the two lines you provided:

1. The athletes think they are cool:

Barging through the crowd at the neighborhood roadhouse, the athletes from the college football team brazenly elbowed others away from the crowded bar and ordered a round of shots to celebrate their latest victory.

2. Mother Nature absorbed us.

The sheets of pounding rain tore holes through my old, fragile umbrella, causing it to droop and look like a pathetic left over lone Swiss cheese slice at a particularly banal $5 smorgasbord.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is what comes to mind for me:

  • While the rest of the school put their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem, the entire football team cocked back their heads and kept their hands behind their backs. 
  • It only took a few minutes of hiking along the southern trail of the state park before we turned around and realized we could no longer see the city. 

You might want to try thinking about some of your own experiences that relate to these topics. The goal is to use specific details to convey the general idea.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

So you need to have questions that show these ideas rather than telling the reader explicitly?  For the first one, think about what the athletes could be doing that could show they think they are cool.  Like “the athletes leaned back against the wall, sunglasses on, ignoring the teachers who were asking them to go to class.”  For the second, think about what sorts of natural scenes could be absorbing.  Like “when we came around the corner of the trail and saw Mt. Rainier for the first time, we stood and looked at the view for nearly an hour.

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The information you have been given is all correct and should help you.  For post seven, I have never seen this old adage explained or explicated so clearly!  The demonstrate or illustrate examples so clearly show the athletes being cool.  I would print out these ideas and keep them for future reference because the idea of illustrating instead of explaining will be part of your writing from now on.  Every English teacher, as well as other subject teachers, looks for the "show, not tell" adage which has been so clearly illustrated for you!

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In pristine uniforms not yet stained by grass, mud, or blood,  the athletes charged onto the field prepared to crush their opponents, and the cheerleaders leaped into the air like young gazelles with their ponytails swishing.

Mere minutes after entering the Great Smoky Mountain National park, I could feel the hectic nature of life being shed like an old skin as the sights and sounds of  mother nature enfolded me in a peaceful and soothing stillness. 

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. The players stalked onto the field, their egos rising above the tumult of the stadium.

2. We gazed in awe at the majestic landscape before us.

A tip I would use is to make sure that your sentences contain emotive language to show the audience what to think and feel about the scene you are trying to create.


litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
1. Athletes feel like they deserve privileges just because they are athletes. They also expect people to come watch them. 2. When I take a walk in the woods, I can forget my troubles. I listen to the birds and feel the cool wind on my face. I watch butterflies hover around me, and everything's okay.
discussion1984 | Student

Oops! I should have said "absorbED" not "absorbs." So it should read: "...arripuit."

discussion1984 | Student

In Latin you could show this by saying: "Atletae sunt coolum cogitant" ("coolum" is my Latin word for "cool" jajajajaja). Then you could say "Natura nos arripit." If not, I don't know what you're talking about....