To #Show Don’t Tell or Not to Show Don’t #Tell, That is the Question

In the course of honing my writing skills, I have come across a number of posts and articles on “show don’t tell” like this. Most support the idea, but there are some that don’t. For someone new to writing or trying to improve, this can send a confusing signal – like it did me. But in researching and trying some exercises, I have a better understanding on each and their purpose in a story.

I finally got a chance to dig into my second draft. Going back over a couple of chapters, I could clearly see that I was doing a lot of telling with little showing. What I wrote got

the point across, however, there were spots that didn’t have that pop. So I worked on a few “show don’t tell” exercises and applied them to my work. It helped a great deal.

Now I’m not saying that everything I write has to show, but I do see why it is important. In the same token, there are times when telling will suffice. How I’ve been able to differentiate between when to use one or the other is to ask myself about the focus of the scene/story. Do I need to let the reader see and feel through the character’s actions (showing) or do I need to give a factoid (telling) for it all to make sense and still be interesting.

Also, the use of descriptive words doesn’t necessarily make something more showing than telling. Sometimes this only makes the story more lengthy and bores the reader to sleep. Instead it’s better to consider the focus and how the reader needs to be drawn in. All in all, I believe it is good to have a balance between showing and telling because they both can help develop the story.

What are your thoughts on “show don’t tell”?


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