As writers we’re constantly told to ‘show’ not ‘tell’, but how do we do that? How do we make ink on while paper breath emotion with such clarity the reader can feel it? Experience it?
Well, let’s start with the basic emotions. Anger being one of the top ones on the list.
One of the best ways to ‘show’ anger is through dialogue. Of course, in this example from Francine Rivers, she shows anger with body language too.
Half an hour later, Mara stormed back. ”Look at this!” She held her hands for him to see her blackened palms and fingers. “I’ve used soap. I’ve used grease. I’ve even rubbed with sand. How do you get this stuff off?”
“It’s the dye from the hulls.”
“You mean they’re going to stay like this?”
“For a couple of weeks.”
Her blue eyes narrowed. “Did you know this would happen?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Michael leaned on the pitchfork. “You didn’t ask.” Her stained hands balled into fists and her face filled with angry color. She didn’t look indifferent or aloof anymore. He added fuel to the fire already blazing. “The nuts still have to be peeled and dried before we can sack them again. Then you and I’ll have all winter long to crack ‘em.”
He saw heat coming into her face; she was ready to explode. “You did this on purpose!”
His own temper was just beneath the surface, so he held his silence.
“How am I supposed to go back now with my hands looking like this?” she could just hear the Duchess laughing at her dung-colored hands. She could just imagine the remarks.
Michael’s mouth curved wryly. “You know, Mara, if you were really that set on going back to Pari-a-Dice, you’d have been on your way weeks ago.”
Can’t you just feel the heat in the moment? Francine doesn’t even need to use words like ‘angry color’ – we already get the idea from the dialogue. Redeeming Love is a fabulous book, btw, if you’ve never read it. A retelling of the Gomer and Hosea story.
So… let’s try another one for tomorrow. Maybe two. Do you have trouble with this writing rule too?