Narrative Writing


Revealing Character Through Action

Imagine that you are writing a story about Victor, a young man who is kind and brave. Victor wants to be a veterinarian.

You write: "Victor was kind and brave, and he wanted to become a veterinarian."

Then you remember the golden rule of creative writing: Show, don't tell.

So you start again.

Victor, bundled in his winter coat, is hurrying down the road. Passing a frozen pond, he sees a dog that has fallen through the ice. At great risk to his own life, Victor saves the dog. But now he is late for his appointment.

Shivering and wet, Victor arrives at his destination—a veterinarian's office where he wants to apply for a job taking care of animals. The receptionist tells him: "Sorry, you're too late. We've already filled that position."

Crestfallen, Victor ponders his next move . . .

Much better, don't you think? In two scenes, you've established that:

Key Point: Showing your characters in action is the best way to reveal their personalities.