Thursday, August 11, 2011

Writing Tips- Show Don't Tell

The following writing tips are from Jason Black's presentation, Show Don't Tell at the 2011 PNWA conference.

1. Know what is meaningful and what is mundane. Tell the boring stuff, the dull filler in between scenes. Show the interesting stuff. Also, showing is vivid, but if you show everything, nothing stands out.

2. You need to bridge the gap between your mind and the reader's. Reader's experiences are all different so they deduce different pictures from your words. Allow them to draw those pictures, don't explain everything in such detail that you stifle their creativity.

3. A writer needs to make visible the invisible. For example, you "tell" that the character is smiling, this also shows their invisible feelings of fun and friendship or happiness.

So, when do you show?
1. When  you need the reader to infer something.
2. To call attention to something in the story.
3.  When you want the reader to feel something.

When do you tell?
1. At scene breaks or to jump in time.
2. To summarize mundane events.

What do you show?
1. What is meaningful.
2. What helps reader's over the gap.
3. What makes visible the invisible.

What do you tell?
 1. Everything else.

Check out Jason Black, book doctor, at


  1. Thanks for this summary. Perfect timing for me.

  2. Love your blog and I'm a new GFC follower from Book blogs. I really enjoyed the above post. Very informative. Hope you'll have a moment to visit and follow my blog. I write book reviews and stories about my crazy life. Hope to see you soon. Donna

  3. Thanks for the comments. Donna, I'll swing on by.

  4. this is great! my creative writing community workshop always points this out :) show don't tell :)

  5. I missed his sessions, but I heard they were great. It's nice to have more than simply "show don't tell." :)

    Thanks for the summary.

  6. Jason is really great. Next week I'll post another of his classes.

  7. You have a great blog here! I LOVE your header at the top! I cant wait to explore more and hear more about your writing world posts! I found your blog through book blogs and i am now following and i am alao following u on Twitter!!