[Writing Tip] 3 Ways to show feelings without saying them

It's important to create a powerful connection with your readers.

Books are never just about plain facts. Your readers can Google for that.

Business books are not just about systems and stories either.

Outstanding non-fiction books create powerful emotional connections with readers. They express the author’s feelings, convey strong sentiments and evoke readers’ emotions.

When we are ghostwriting books for authors, we use emotions to engage readers. Whether it’s a non-fiction expert book or memoir, we evoke feelings to create memorable experiences with readers. 

How do you show feelings in your book without saying them? How can you use feelings to enhance storytelling in your book—even if it’s non-fiction?

One key: show emotions, don’t tell. Just saying you felt "angry," "worried" or "bored" is itself boring. It’s telling people what to feel instead of showing.

In our ghostwriting projects, we use these 3 ways to show feelings without saying them.

1. Show physical response


We show how someone’s body reacted. 

For example:

  • Telling: "The marketing director was excited to find out the results."
  • Showing: "The marketing director looked at me with bright eyes and a big smile that morning, her body leaning forward against the table."


2. Reveal through dialogue

We reveal a person’s feelings through conversation. 
For example:

  • Telling: "I was worried our customers would not like the new menu."
  • Showing: ‘I asked the restaurant manager, "Do you think customers will like our new menu?’"

3. Personify weather

We use inanimate objects to express feelings. 

For example:

  • Telling: "The day we got our first one-star review on Yelp, I felt depressed."
  • Showing: "The day we got our first one-star review on Yelp, the sky turned dark and thunder filled the air."



Bonus: Combine all three methods.


For example:

  • Telling: "The marketing director was excited to find out their results. But I was worried customers would not like the new menu. The day we got our first one-star review on Yelp, I felt depressed."
  • Showing: "The marketing director looked at me with bright eyes and a big smile, her body leaning forward against the table. The previous week, I had asked the restaurant manager, ‘Do you think customers will like our new menu?’ I couldn't bear to tell the marketing director the results so far. The day before, when we got our first one-star review on Yelp, the sky turned dark and thunder filled the air."

See how we evoke emotion in a simple business scene?

Of course, we have more techniques. But this gives you a scent.

Would you like to create powerful emotional connections in your book?

Let’s talk.

Showing, instead of telling feelings, is a storytelling method to lift your business book from mediocre to outstanding.

by Helen Chang, ABM Editorial Director


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