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“Show, Don’t Tell” Explained In A Language Grown Ups Can Understand

“Show, Don’t Tell” Explained In A Language Grown Ups Can Understand.

Hi Heroes,

I hope the above link helps you in your writing!

I’m curious…are you also confused by the advice to “Show and Don’t Tell?”

Reaching Higher,



5 thoughts on ““Show, Don’t Tell” Explained In A Language Grown Ups Can Understand

  1. Hey, thanks for sharing! That’s an interesting article. I’ve got some thoughts on it, but they’ve already amounted to about a 300-word answer, lol. I always feel guilty posting big responses ’cause everyone else is so brief! “Comments” aren’t always exactly “discussions…”

    Maybe I’ll just blog about it again and link back to here, heh.

  2. Alrighty, lol. (Can’t say I didn’t warn you! :P)

    I like how Ollin’s article addresses the “show” aspect by explaining what to show and how much to show. Though, I think it’s also important to consider balancing the informational limitations of the “observe and report” approach (great for the first attempt at a draft) with actual story-telling–that is, artfully and discerningly relaying necessary (sometimes background) information to the reader in a unique, enjoyable and entertaining style and voice…

    …which ultimately encompasses both show and tell.

    This is where viewpoint, voice and style come into play. Are you telling the story from the viewpoint of a journalist? A doctor? A homeless person? How about a man, or a woman? Maybe even a child? Even in third person, these things are highly relevant.

    Not only do you have to filter the possibilities of what and how much to show through character or narrator viewpoints but also the manner in which it is told. A 5-year old girl is destined to observe the world and relay her observations differently than a 60-year old man. For one, their vocabulary is going to be vastly different.

    We haven’t even begun to consider their personalities or backstories yet. Not to mention, people can actually “talk” in various ways–using words, facial expressions, body language, sounds, actions… Even silence has the potential to speak volumes.

    I think what the proponents of “show, don’t tell” were really trying to get at is that you, the writer, should not limit the telling of a story to mere exposition. But Ollin is right: It’s way more complicated than that simple phrase makes it seem. You don’t want to just relay raw facts; you’ve got to discern what’s necessary, cut the rest and make the remainder relevant in a personal way–not only to your characters but to your audience, as well.

  3. Sorry, one more thing, haha.

    Another thing I like about his article is the excersice he suggests. It kind of reminds me of something I did in an art class once (and discovered I was horrible at, lol). The instructor had us sketch an object in the center of the room…without looking at what we were drawing. Only after 10, 30, 60 minutes did we get to look at the results.

    …Talk about a reality check! I think it has a similar effect to that of Ollin’s exercise because you are writing/drawing “blind” at first rather than comparing and studying.

    • Thanks for sharing, Yoyo.

      That wasn’t so bad. LOL :mrgreen:

      There is a fine balance between showing your readers and over-doing this. We have to give our readers the benefit of the doubt and to give only so much to wet their appetite than to spoon feed them.

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