Dummies Guide to Show vs Tell

In the writing world, the current mantra of ‘show vs tell’ is all over the place. But if you over analyze the statement you begin to ask, what does it actually mean? But before you have a meltdown and end up on the street shouting out phrases like ‘But technically isn’t everything you write telling in some form or another?’ or ‘These examples are too small (even though they are great, you just want more). Stop and just admit you want someone to not chastise you for saying, ‘Just tell it to me like I’m an idiot.’ Well here is that answer:

Show vs Tell is pretty much Scene vs Summary.

I just came across a TedTalk by John Dufresne and he gives a great description.

‘Scene is vivid and intimate and Summary is distant and efficient‘. He says this at the 4.20 mark in the video below.


I don’t have time . . .

When do you have time?

Everyone has the same 24 hours. You just can’t manage it as well as others.

Last year was my most productive writing phase of my life. I think I literally had ten plus story ideas come to me.And I’ve managed to record them in various degrees from completed first drafts to merely dot points.

There is this excuse that people say, ‘If I had the time I’d write a book.’

Pfft. You have the time you’re just negligent about it.

Look at me, I worked full time and did split shifts and still managed to use the time I had to create various drafts of stories that one day will see the light of day. If you really want to write that book or do something else, there is nothing in the world that will stop you.

How to write.

Overall a person should write their story like a parent, but edit like a critic. The last thing you want as an author is to spend all that time writing/editing and after publishing it someone points out a flaw you missed or knew was there but didn’t bother to fix.

When you are writing no one knows what your story is/will be about and that is the point.  They don’t have to know about it until you are ready to release it to the world. But once you start preparing it, you have to edit for such a place (and it can be pretty harsh).

One way I do this is by thinking about it like a critic would.

  • Does everything make sense?If not fix it.
  • Some thing out-of-place? Probably is.
  • A word seem not right? Probably is.
  • Not too sure about something? The reader will pick up on it too.

If you want to have a go at being a critic, pick up a book/download one and read it. List all the things you think are wrong;

  • Telling not showing.
  • Not enough/too much dialogue.
  • Characters not acting like their personality indicates?
  • World doesn’t seem realistic?

When I go through my book for editing I think ‘What would a reviewer think of this?’ or ‘What would I like the reviewer to/not to say?’.

  • Do I want them to say my characters are great? Well I better write them fucking well.
  • Do I want people to say it was enjoyable to read? Better make sure it is.
  • I don’t want people to say it has spelling mistakes. So I better go over those words with a dictionary comb.

If you think that you’re lacking in a certain area? Try to identify the problem as much as possible. Then look online/ask someone about how to improve/fix it.

Videos of how to write novels

It’s my shame to say that when looking at tips on how to write a novel or story, I mainly focused on blogs and articles as a source. But not videos. I don’t know why either. So I just started looking about and found some interesting clips.

This one is for beginners and solely focuses on writing for beginners.

Advice on writing and publishing.

This one is on storytelling.

About character and plot.

This is a realistic advice for writers.