Immerse Your Readers: Don’t Sing It. Bring It.

Darker PagesA lot of writers like to use the phrase show, don’t tell. Personally, I prefer a catchphrase from one of my favorite old-school wrestlers, Scott Hall, who was known for saying, “Don’t sing it. Bring It.”

Whichever you prefer, the point is the same. When crafting a story, you serve the reader better by immersing them in the story through vivid description and detail.

Here’s an example:

She stepped outside the cabin. It was a bright morning and it was damn cold. She cursed under her breath and hugged her chest.

That’s a whole lot of singing.

Let’s try again.

She shoved the cabin door—swollen in its frame from the cold—and stepped outside. The low sun sparkled on the frost that covered the grass and gravel. It made everything look shrink-wrapped and artificial.

“Damn,” she said, the syllable lingering in front of her face in the form of pale steam.

A shiver rippled from her spine. She hugged her chest, her hard nipples scraping the inside of her shirt.

See the difference? You don’t need to sing about how cold it is, if you bring that coldness to the reader—via shivers, hard nipples, and steaming breath. Likewise, you don’t need to tell the reader that it’s morning if you show the reader a low sun and frost.

If you do too much singing, your reader is going to stay on the surface of your story. You won’t suck them into the moment. But if you bring them into the scene with solid sensory details, riveting metaphors, and skillful description, you’ll enable them to experience the story from the inside.

And that’s right where you want them.

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