From Dreaming to Publishing: Show Vs Tell


This post is part of the “From Dreaming to Publishing” series.

  • Telling is a narrative summary, we’re being told
  • Showing is an immediate scene, we get to feel/live it
  • Capture readers early on, the first chapter should be all about showing
  • Amateurs draw attention to themselves by telling a lot
  • Engage readers’ emotions (show) not their intellects (tell)
  • Don’t overdo it: narrative (tell) varies rhythm
  • Scene after scene is exhausting and becomes less impressive


  • Which narrative fits best your scene?
  • Going from scene to scene without pauses? Let the reader breath with a narrative!
  • Long passages with nothing happening in real time? Stop telling and start showing!
  • Describing emotions of characters? Resist the urge to explain and show them!

book cover

This post is a personal summary of a chapter from the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, which I read when preparing for NaNoWriMo. It warns amateur writers for the common pitfalls and provides solutions with examples. I’m sure you’ll find it useful too.