Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

23 Comments

  1. Great info here. This really helped explain it better than many articles I've read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. *shakes head* That summarizing thing–I do it all the time. It’s one of my writing tics. I need to post something on my computer–Thou Shalt Not Summarize Events in the WIP.

    :)

  3. *shakes head* That summarizing thing–I do it all the time. It’s one of my writing tics. I need to post something on my computer–Thou Shalt Not Summarize Events in the WIP.

    :)

  4. I do too. Especially when I'm writing historical information. But at least we know our weakness and can look out for it!

  5. I do too. Especially when I’m writing historical information. But at least we know our weakness and can look out for it!

  6. I think there is a time for telling instead of showing.You can't show everything. Showing everything results in a 1,000 page manuscript. But I do know that I still tell entirely too much and as a result it's hard for the reader to feel the emotional landscape I'm trying to create.

    This is one of the best articles I've seen explaining the show, don't tell adage though. I mean I "know" what show, don't tell, means, but then I don't? You know? Or I didn't. Now I do. Basically what I'm trying to get out, but won't come out is…these are good examples that paint very clearly the differences for me so I can better apply them. Thanks!

  7. I think there is a time for telling instead of showing.You can’t show everything. Showing everything results in a 1,000 page manuscript. But I do know that I still tell entirely too much and as a result it’s hard for the reader to feel the emotional landscape I’m trying to create.

    This is one of the best articles I’ve seen explaining the show, don’t tell adage though. I mean I “know” what show, don’t tell, means, but then I don’t? You know? Or I didn’t. Now I do. Basically what I’m trying to get out, but won’t come out is…these are good examples that paint very clearly the differences for me so I can better apply them. Thanks!

  8. The whole show-don't-tell conundrum really bedevils the best of us, so it's great to have it broken down in such relate-able terms. Thank you!

  9. The whole show-don’t-tell conundrum really bedevils the best of us, so it’s great to have it broken down in such relate-able terms. Thank you!

  10. Great info here. This really helped explain it better than many articles I’ve read. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Zoe – I completely agree. That’s what I’ll be talking about in tomorrow’s post. And thank you! I learn by example so I thought maybe showing an example would help.

    Margay – You’re very welcome.

    Sierra – Glad to help!

  12. Natalie – I wish my magic wand could help you, but alas, it's made of plastic and sequins. Showing is active, this much I know. We are reading the actions of the character as they do them, whereas in narrative/exposition we are reading what has already happened, or, in some cases, what might happen. There are usually exceptions to this rule, just like any other, but that's how I simplify it when I'm writing/editing.

  13. Shannon – I turn to musicals when in doubt, and they hardly ever lead me astray. ;-) And it's really hard sometimes to determine which is the best way to write a scene as telling/showing. There have been times where I wrote one scene both ways, left it alone for a day, and then came back to it to see which affected me most. More work than writing it once, but it helped me.

    Marti – I feel you. I love the tiny, unique details in my favorite authors but I sometimes still struggle putting the details in my own writing. So I re-read my favorite authors, not for comprehension, but to learn the craft. That helps a lot.

  14. How do you know you've got it right and not full of exposition? Like everyone else this is what I struggle with at the moment, showing without annoying the reader. Great blog.

  15. I can never read enough on this topic personally. Each person shows it in a different way and your examples really stuck with me. I love the My Fair Lady verse – how perfect! I might have to stick that on my wall.

    One aspect i’m still struggling with is deciding what parts to show and what parts to tell. Sometimes it is obvious but there are situations where I have to think about the tempo of the section or what aspect in the section is most important and needs to be the accent. Part of the learning process I guess. I look forward to tomorrow’s topic!

  16. I can never read enough on this topic personally. Each person shows it in a different way and your examples really stuck with me. I love the My Fair Lady verse – how perfect! I might have to stick that on my wall.

    One aspect i’m still struggling with is deciding what parts to show and what parts to tell. Sometimes it is obvious but there are situations where I have to think about the tempo of the section or what aspect in the section is most important and needs to be the accent. Part of the learning process I guess. I look forward to tomorrow’s topic!

  17. Sometimes I’m sooo sure I’m showing, not telling. Then my BFF, also a writer, points out the error of my ways. I hate it when someone else rewrites a couple of sentences for me, but if she didn’t, I’d never recognize what I’d done. I hate it worse that I still summarize when I should be detailing. It’s the tiniest, most unique details that catch me when I read my favorite authors!

  18. Sometimes I’m sooo sure I’m showing, not telling. Then my BFF, also a writer, points out the error of my ways. I hate it when someone else rewrites a couple of sentences for me, but if she didn’t, I’d never recognize what I’d done. I hate it worse that I still summarize when I should be detailing. It’s the tiniest, most unique details that catch me when I read my favorite authors!

  19. Shannon – I turn to musicals when in doubt, and they hardly ever lead me astray. ;-) And it’s really hard sometimes to determine which is the best way to write a scene as telling/showing. There have been times where I wrote one scene both ways, left it alone for a day, and then came back to it to see which affected me most. More work than writing it once, but it helped me.

    Marti – I feel you. I love the tiny, unique details in my favorite authors but I sometimes still struggle putting the details in my own writing. So I re-read my favorite authors, not for comprehension, but to learn the craft. That helps a lot.

  20. How do you know you’ve got it right and not full of exposition? Like everyone else this is what I struggle with at the moment, showing without annoying the reader. Great blog.

  21. Natalie – I wish my magic wand could help you, but alas, it’s made of plastic and sequins. Showing is active, this much I know. We are reading the actions of the character as they do them, whereas in narrative/exposition we are reading what has already happened, or, in some cases, what might happen. There are usually exceptions to this rule, just like any other, but that’s how I simplify it when I’m writing/editing.

  22. This is the first time I've read something on show don't tell and thought "now I get it". Thank you. Of couse now I have more editing to do. LOL.

    Sandie

  23. Sadie – I'm so glad this helped! Examples seem to be the only way to make sense out of the show, don't tell mantra.

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