I try to avoid using any variation of is because that turns a sentence into telling instead of showing. Is and was appear less in my writing, but they slip (the little stinkers) in on occasion. These tips come from my journey to do more showing and less telling in my writing.
Before we dive into the tips, I notice that popular non-fiction writing tends to use fiction-style writing by telling a story or using a theme. It makes the content more gripping and less drudgey (I didn’t want to say “dry” — that’s another thing I work to avoid… using common verbs and cliches).
Use specific active verbs that tell what’s happening: poke, race, bounce, spring.
Use of quotes lets the reader “hear.”
Describe a person’s reaction to let the reader “feel” the emotions. “Her jaw fell while her forehead crinkled as the whites of her eyes appear.”
Use pictures with precise words.
Avoid bland and redundant phrases. “She is in shock.” Does the phrase above sound better? OK, so we often hear of jaws dropping or falling and foreheads crinkling. I just couldn’t come up with a different way to say it when I needed it.
Use the five senses to create an image. The nose knows, the eyes see, the ears hear, the fingers feel, the mouth tastes.
Describe a person’s actions instead of telling the readers what s/he feels.
She pushes her chair back while feeling the stiffness and pain on one side of her back. As she struggles to stand, her voice lets out a groan ending with a crackle that almost sounds like a cry. With every slow step she takes, she urges her back to straighten a little more.
What do you think of this?
What other tips do you apply to captivate readers?