Writing Adages Explained: ‘Show, Don’t Tell’

“Show, Don’t Tell” gets a bad rap as far as writing advice goes because it’s become a “catch all” for just about anything a feedback-giver feels is “bad” prose or scene description. As a result, this note can end up being frustrating, rather than illuminating.

However, at its heart, it IS good stuff. It basically describes the sensation in the reader of feeling “placed away” from the events in the story. This is not dramatic, because the writer is not INVOLVING us *in* the story. Instead, it ends up feeling a bit, “And then … And then … And then …” either because the novelist is dumping a load of exposition on us, or because the screenwriter is telling us via character dialogue what’s going on.

So, remember:

Keyword: DRAMATISE.

SHOW DON'T TELL

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