Show Don’t Tell

How to help a reader EXPERIENCE your story

Series 2 | Lesson 3

Creators | Andrew McDonald & Ailsa Wild

Good stories bring worlds to life in our minds, and let us feel for ourselves what a character is experiencing.

In this lesson, Ailsa and Andrew will teach us how we can SHOW readers our characters’ worlds, thoughts and feelings.

And they’ll give us some tools for lifting our words off the page and into our readers’ imaginations.

Key Concepts:

  • Telling a reader what is happening vs showing them what is happening
  • The power of descriptive language, such as adjectives and adverbs
  • Using sense writing, action, and description to connect the reader and fictional character.


  • Tools and techniques - using action, adjectives and adverbs, to ‘paint a picture’ for your readers, and to bring your stories to life in their minds
  • Writing techniques that help readers to imagine what characters are going through in the story.

Resources for Show Don’t Tell

Resources include lesson plans for middle and upper primary students, each with their own activities and supporting resources.

ST Series 2 Lesson 3 Education Resources
  • Word lists to inject more action into your writing.
  • Worksheets to explore writing feelings, mood and atmosphere.
  • A reference poster to clearly see the difference between telling and showing.
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About Show Don’t Tell Creators

Andrew McDonald

Andrew McDonald is a reader and writer of books for young readers, most notably the best-selling Real Pigeons series with illustrations by Ben Wood.

He is a regular presenter on the schools circuit in Australia, conducting writing workshops; talking about his writing life and sharing the stories and experiences behind his books.

Learn more

Ailsa Wild

Ailsa Wild is an author, performer and community artist.

Her writing includes junior fiction and YA, and she also works with scientists to translate complex science into compelling illustrated narrative picture books.

Ailsa lives in Melbourne with her partner, her son and two little fish.

Learn more