Best Writing Advice: Show Me

best writing tips

BY KRISTIN HOYT

My numb, icy fingers grasp the frozen metal handle. Whoosh! A burst of warmth wraps around me like a familiar hug as I slip through the door, plunging my hands back into the pockets of my futile coat. The barista, barricaded behind pastry cases and a behemoth of an espresso machine, opens her arms wide and ushers me in.

“You’re safe now!” the tattooed, blue-haired Keeper of Caffeine says with a smile. I shoot a glance to my left and my heart does a little cartwheel as I lay eyes on my favourite table, unoccupied and luring me over.

“Show me.” By showing the reader the scene, you are romancing them into a feeling or a moment, creating an engaging experience that far surpasses the blandness of simply being told what you are looking at. I could have just stated, “I walked into the coffee shop.” By choosing to show you, I hope to have created an engaging and immersive reading experience.

The best writing tip I received trickled down from my 7th-grade nanny kid while helping her with a creative writing assignment. Her teacher instructed exactly that: “Show me.” It is one thing to tell a story. It is entirely different to submerge all the reader’s senses into an experience. For instance, I could state, “I walked my dog.” How about I show you instead?

His beady brown eyes gaze up at me as he patiently waits for me to slip the collar over his sleek head, solid black other than a white milk moustache, his only sign of ageing. His blue, dog-bone-shaped tag reads “Bean”. It jingles wildly as his thick Labrador tail wags, threatening to clear the coffee table with one fell swoop. We cruise down the three flights of apartment stairs and step into the crisp, fall Portland air. It is not raining today for a change, and we plan to take full advantage of it. Every blade of grass is worth sniffing, every tree worth investigating, and every squirrel worth intimidating to this curious four-legged friend. He slows me down and forces me to engage with the world in a way that most people cannot. We take our time meandering along our usual route, mossy 100-year-old sidewalks underfoot through streets lined with equally charming homes. There is a puddle to dodge every few feet, but that is part of the fun. Bean and I both pause to enjoy the feeling of warmth from the sun, and to bear witness to the idyllic breeze gently knocking leaves the colour of fire from the trees.

If something so mundane as entering a coffee shop or walking the dog can be captivating, how much more powerful is the potential of an important scene full of grit, sorrow, or joy? Show me. I do not want to simply hear it. I want to feel it. Words have the power to transport you anywhere, and I intend to show readers a journey worth taking.  

About the Author

Kristin Hoyt enjoys writing from the comfort of cosy coffee shops as a means of surviving the dreary Portland, Oregon, rainy season. Being able to process the world through words on paper has always been a valuable tool for her to soak in her surroundings and make sense of the world. She has had various poems and short stories published throughout her school days but is thrilled to be sharing her first publication outside of school. 

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best writing tips

Best Writing Advice: Show Me

BY KRISTIN HOYT My numb, icy fingers grasp the frozen metal handle. Whoosh! A burst of warmth wraps around me like a familiar hug as