“Show, Don’t Tell” (And Don’t Talk Too Much)


One of the early mistakes you make as a writer (and I’m guilty of it still sometimes) is breaking the old “Show, don’t tell” rule. It makes a big difference when you learn how to do this effectively. For example:


Mary was fifteen, and she had long brown hair and blue eyes that all her friends said were more gray than blue and that bothered her a lot. She always felt like she could never be popular.


Mary shoved her hair up into the hair tie, pulling the long end of her ponytail through as she and Jen continued their conversation.

“My eyes are blue,” she said.

“They’re more gray than blue,” Jen argued. “Which is why you should dye your hair a darker brown. Then they’d really pop! And you should wear more black.”

“What are you? The tenth grade fashion police?” She slung her backpack over her shoulder. “C’mon. Let’s go.”

See what I mean? And here’s my own personal quirk that irks me. I write pretty good dialogue. I’m also an award-winning playwright (although, that was a while back) and I love, love, love to write good conversation. And that is my own personal writer crutch, too.

I write very, very dialogue-heavy books and that can be a problem. Sometimes, I just plain need to tell more, but in a way that doesn’t feel like I’m telling.

I’ll let you know when I figure that out, because I’m still working on it.

In the meantime, back to work as I finish up final edits on Someday In Dublin and Captured By The Hunter – both are breaking soon!

dub2_Cov     hunter_cov

2 comments on ““Show, Don’t Tell” (And Don’t Talk Too Much)

  1. I also write dialogue-heavy stories. Whenever my characters start talking, there’s suddenly a very long conversation. I don’t mind that. I love dialogue-heavy stories. You learn a lot from dialogues.

    I tend to resort to telling whenever I need to summarize things that aren’t that important. That said, I also always write in first-person. The way the narrator tells something itself says something about him.


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