Monday, May 23, 2011

Ahhh—Telling isn't All Bad

If you've read classic literature, you've observed a lot of telling. If you enjoy classic literature, you must enjoy reading narrative. But today's audience typically wishes to be more in the action, lighter on the description. Some say we don't have the attention span of our forefathers.

Have you ever heard yourself go…bla bla bla? Either that content should have been edited out, or it's probably telling.

I've read a lot of writing rules. Show don't tell is too simplistic. There are of course times to tell, otherwise the journey would wear out your reader. Showing makes the action more immediate. But everything doesn't need to whack your reader aside the head.

The only black and white rule I've found about Show-versus-Tell is: leave it the heck out of your tags.

Otherwise, consider the following guidelines. These aren't original, but sorry I can't annotate their origin. I read and take a lot of notes, but almost always forget where the notes come from.

Regards, Mac


  1. Good guidelines. It's so important to find the balance, because showing too much can get just as boring as telling too much.

  2. I do agree that there can be a balance. Don't much like reading books that are ALL show or ALL tell. Great diagram!