What is the Show, Don’t Tell method in PSLE English Composition Writing?

The “Show, Don’t Tell” method in PSLE English Composition Writing is a fundamental narrative technique aimed at bringing the reader into the heart of the story by relying on vivid descriptions, sensory details, and character actions, rather than overt explanations or flat assertions. This approach enriches the reading experience by allowing readers to engage more actively and intuitively with the story, thereby enhancing their understanding and appreciation of the narrative.

‘Show, Don’t Tell’ Method for PSLE Composition Writing

Or back to the main page: Navigating the Terrain of PSLE English Composition Writing: A Comprehensive Guide

Let’s break this down for a clearer understanding.

The essence of “Show, Don’t Tell” lies in presenting the readers with enough descriptive and action-based detail that they can draw their own conclusions about the characters or the situation at hand. Instead of simply telling the reader that a character is sad, for instance, this method encourages students to show this emotion through the character’s actions, reactions, and demeanor. A quivering lip, a silent tear, or a downward gaze can speak volumes about the character’s state of mind, thereby adding depth and dimension to the narrative.

This technique brings to the forefront the creative abilities of a student, challenging them to delve deep into their imagination and come up with descriptive phrases and illustrative examples that can bring their story to life. It not only allows students to express their thoughts and feelings more effectively but also encourages them to hone their observational skills, making them more aware of the subtle cues and nuances in their surroundings.

A well-executed “Show, Don’t Tell” approach can significantly elevate the quality of a PSLE English composition, transforming it from a straightforward recounting of events to a captivating narrative that holds the readers’ attention from start to finish. Moreover, this technique promotes a deeper understanding of the characters, their motivations, and their experiences, thereby fostering empathy and a more nuanced appreciation of the narrative.

Here are 15 examples of how the “Show, Don’t Tell” method can be applied in writing, specifically for the PSLE English Composition:

  1. Telling: “John was very nervous.” Showing: “John’s hands trembled as he fumbled with his papers, his heart pounding like a drum in his chest.”
  2. Telling: “The pizza was delicious.” Showing: “The cheese on the pizza was perfectly melted, stretching with each bite, while the tangy tomato sauce played a symphony on my taste buds.”
  3. Telling: “It was a rainy day.” Showing: “Grey clouds covered the sky as fat raindrops splattered against the window pane, creating a rhythmic patter.”
  4. Telling: “She is sad.” Showing: “Her eyes welled up with unshed tears, her smile fading as she stared blankly at the floor.”
  5. Telling: “He is very intelligent.” Showing: “He would always have a book in his hand, his eyes darting over the pages as he absorbed the knowledge within.”
  6. Telling: “The room was messy.” Showing: “Clothes were strewn about the room, mingling with discarded papers and empty cups littered on the floor.”
  7. Telling: “The sunset was beautiful.” Showing: “The sky was ablaze with hues of orange, pink, and red, painting a breathtaking canvas as the sun dipped below the horizon.”
  8. Telling: “It’s a hot day.” Showing: “The scorching sun blazed in the clear sky, the heat shimmering off the pavement.”
  9. Telling: “The dog is happy.” Showing: “The dog’s tail wagged furiously, and he bounded over with a gleaming pair of joyful eyes.”
  10. Telling: “She is very kind.” Showing: “She always had a comforting word for everyone, her hands ready to help those in need.”
  11. Telling: “It was a quiet night.” Showing: “The only sounds to be heard were the soft hooting of an owl and the distant rustle of leaves in the breeze.”
  12. Telling: “The soup was too salty.” Showing: “One spoonful of the soup made her scrunch up her face; the saltiness was overpowering.”
  13. Telling: “He was scared of the dark.” Showing: “As the lights went out, his breath hitched and his knuckles turned white gripping the edge of the bed.”
  14. Telling: “The forest was peaceful.” Showing: “The gentle rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds hidden in the foliage, and the faint trickle of a distant stream composed a serene symphony in the forest.”
  15. Telling: “She loves painting.” Showing: “She would spend hours in front of her canvas, her brush dancing gracefully as vibrant colors sprung to life under her touch.”

These examples illustrate how the “Show, Don’t Tell” method creates a more immersive and engaging narrative by using vivid descriptions and action-oriented sentences.


Mastering the ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ method in PSLE English Composition writing is crucial for students who aspire to achieve outstanding performance. This storytelling technique brings life to compositions, allowing students to paint vivid images and evoke deep emotions in the minds of their readers, which is essential in compelling narrative writing.

Applying this technique demands a sound understanding of the English language, with emphasis on diverse vocabulary, sentence structures, and a keen sense of observational and descriptive skills. When applied effectively, it elevates the composition from a simple storytelling piece to a captivating narrative that invites the reader to experience the journey along with the characters.

Remember that practicing ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ is not only about using more descriptive language but also about engaging the readers’ senses and emotions, making them active participants in the story. It might seem challenging at first, but like any skill, it becomes easier and more natural with practice.

For PSLE students, adopting this method could significantly enhance their composition writing, leaving a strong impression on examiners and potentially improving their scores. The ability to show rather than tell is not just a requirement for the exams, but a valuable skill that will benefit them in their further education and beyond.

So, as you continue your journey in English composition writing, keep in mind the essence of ‘Show, Don’t Tell’. Let your words create a world, let your characters breathe, and let your stories resonate. And remember, the key to becoming a great writer is persistent practice, patient refinement, and an unabated passion for storytelling.

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