A couple of exercises in showing and telling this week.
This is a very famous exercise in descriptive writing, or showing not telling, devised by the American novelist and teacher John Gardner. It appears in his book The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers (1991):
Describe a barn as seen by a man whose son has just been killed in a war. Do not mention the son, or war, or death. Do not mention the man who does the seeing.
It is quite difficult. It’s an exercise in entering someone else’s mind. I think you are allowed to say “A man approached a barn” or “A man went into a barn”. There are quite a few attempts at doing it online.
This one is more straightforward:
Take this sentence and write three ways of showing it without saying it:
She was unhappy.