How many times have you heard that in your life, especially if you're a writer. Lots of folks say it, but few actually bother to show or even tell us how to do it. So here's how we do it at The Word Factory, using a little strategy worked up by our own Steve Peha (check out his day job here).

Make your content more descriptive

Tell-Show is best when we need details that help the reader form a mental picture of our ideas. These are mostly visual details, things you could really see if you were there. Showing takes more words than telling, but that’s kind of the point. Showing is also where we use similes most effectively. This kind of writing is most often used in marketing and sales copy, but it can be effective in other forms, as well.

An example of descriptive pre-writing

Here’s a Tell-Show used to describe ball gowns and wedding dresses:

Tell-Show copyright Teaching That Makes Sense. Used by permission.

Here’s the draft copy:

  • The sparkly Beautiful Bling Wedding Dress. Feel pretty as a princess in this gown featuring a bodice strewn with sea pearls, bugle beads and crystals that falls into a full ruffled skirt with a chapel-length train. Available in white only.
  • The convertible Banyan Gown. Perfect for the bride who appreciates a women’s prerogative to change her mind. Lace cap sleeves (optional) and ‘jewel’ encrusted bands highlight this embellished bodice that cascades into a pool of lace and tulle. Trumpet silhouette. Available in white, diamond white/pewter or light gold/champagne.
  • The layered Seaside Fantasy Gown. A beach beauty will exude elegance in this mermaid dress of pearl silk chiffon over blush silk charmeuse with Chantilly lace with hand-embroidered insets. Available in White Sand and Beach.
  • The 1920s-look Vintage Wedding Dress. Traditional brides will love the layers of flowing tulle, ruffles and appliqué that adorn this dropped-waist gown with sweep train. Available in ivory and white.

Revising with Tell-Show

Tell-Show is a great revising tool, too. Whenever you feel like your work lacks detail or doesn’t have the right details, try a Tell-Show. Check out this blog post:

Wear your bike helmet.

It’s worth it, no matter how goofy you think it makes you look. The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Yet a recent study  found that only 24 percent of North Carolinians actually wore one. Many of those who did weren’t wearing it correctly. Need a helmet? Click here.

The editor wanted clear instructions on how to wear the helmet. That’s where Tell-Show can help:

Now look at what we have:

Wear your bike helmet.

It’s worth it, no matter how goofy you think it makes you look. The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Yet a study by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center found that only 24 percent of North Carolinians actually wore one. Many of those who did weren’t wearing it correctly.

To give your noggin a fighting chance, position your helmet securely on your head (most come with foam pads to help get a good fit). It should rest 1 or 2 fingers over your eyebrows, and the chin strap should be as snug as comfortable. Need a helmet? Click here.

Ready to give it a whirl?

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Tell-Show © 1995-2011 Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. Used by permission.