Show Not Tell: the final crusader challenge

The awesome Rachael Harrie, crusade organiser and Rach Writes blogger, has issued the third and final challenge for the authors’ platform-building crusade. The challenge is to write a passage in 300 words or less that shows (rather than tells) the following:

  • you’re scared and hungry
  • it’s dusk
  • you think someone is following you
  • and just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: shimmer, saccadic, substance, and salt.

Yep, pretty tricky! Here’s my response.


I crouch in the long grass behind a Scribbly Gum and try to calm my breath so I can listen for footsteps.

Shit. There they are. Off to the right. I thought I’d lost them, but obviously not. 

The footsteps come closer. If they get much nearer, they’ll hear my rasping lungs for sure.

The footsteps stop.

Silence. Painful silence.

My eyes make saccadic movements as they try to peer around the tree. But the rest of me stays perfectly still, and I force my eyes to stare at the scribbles on the tree trunk until my vision shimmers and blurs.  

Whispers of conversation make their way through the trees to me. No substance. Just sound. But their tone seems relaxed. Maybe they’ve stopped looking – for now.

Then, the unmistakable smell of food. Sandwiches. With cheese and some kind of salty meat.

Ham. Definitely ham.

Those bastards. They must know I haven’t eaten for days. I try to imagine how the ham would taste, but the bitter tang of blood in my mouth overwhelms my imagination.

Would now be a good time to escape, while they’re distracted by their dinner? Or should I stay here for another hour until the lingering sunlight has disappeared? Once night falls, it will be so much harder for them to find me. But what do I do in the meantime? Stay here like a rabbit waiting to be hunted down?

I touch my swollen, blood-caked lip and pain shoots through my face. Decision made. I can’t wait here for them to catch me. I’d rather be shot trying to run than found cowering in the bushes.

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Filed under Competitions, Writers Crusade, Writing

23 responses to “Show Not Tell: the final crusader challenge

  1. You got me! What happens next???!

  2. This is great – I can’t wait to find out what happens next! And what a great example of showing and not telling =)

  3. Great story! Is there going to be any more to it? I’m curious about what happens next. Nice job!

  4. Vicki Tremper

    This was soooo good! I felt the character’s fear, pain and hunger. Way to go!

  5. Ooh, good one! I like how you used the word substance, and the way you showed that it’s dusk was pretty good too 🙂

  6. Ooh… what happens next?!? Great entry!

  7. Wow, what a lot of questions this raised! Why is your MC being hunted? Who is hunting him/her? what happens next? Great post!

  8. salty ham and the tang of blood. my favorite parts! i think taste is so hard to incorporate into writing! christy

  9. Great use of all five senses. I was rooting for your heroine from the beginning, but when I realized she was hurt, my sympathy doubled. Well done!

  10. Ooh good for her. I hope she escapes :O)

  11. You’ve done it! I’m hooked. This is a great example of showing.

  12. Nice, nice,nice. I felt so much tension in it. And great voice. Made me want to go on and keep reading….but…you had to stop. Darn. Well done.

  13. Ooh, love it! I thought for sure your MC would give themselves away when the food came out 🙂 “Silence. Painful silence.” – awesome imagery!



  14. Yikes, what happens next? Great job!

  15. Isn’t it fantastic, how different everyone is dealing with the same specifications?!?! Love the part with the sandwiches, how the stomach reacts to the smell! How torturous! Great!

    Karin @ Nofretiris Dream Of Writing

  16. Wow – I feel so bad for your MC!! I hope he/she will be OK… And I love the last line about preferring to be shot on the run than be cowering in the bushes. Good job!

  17. That’s a nice bit of description, thanks for sharing.

    I’m starting up a ‘Critiquing and Supportive Crusaders’ program, where participants in the Second Crusade can find other writers to exchange critiques with or form supportive critiquing circles. If you’re interested, come by The Kelworth Files to check it out!

  18. I hope she escapes! Love the visual and scent details.

  19. Great entry. I really enjoyed it. You show so well.

  20. Pingback: Thanks to Rach and her crusaders! | Cally Jackson Writes

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