Day Twenty-Five: Show Don’t Tell

(Day 25) How to Show Not Tell

I’m going to give you one more technical editing assignment today.

You’ve probably heard (over and over and over) that writers should show not tell.

Here’s a quick primer on what that actually means.

Telling is talking to your best friend about a party you went to the night before.

Showing is taking her with you.

Telling is letting someone know you had a baby last night.

Showing is having them in the delivery room with you.

Telling is exposition. It’s narrative.

Showing is scene.

How to Show Not Tell

So, here’s what you’re going to do. Take a look at your work in progress. Look for a place where you have a character or the narrator telling about something. Then open it up. Bring the reader to the party. Bring the reader into the delivery room.

This is going to kind of suck for you, because once you really understand how to show not tell, you’re going to start seeing exposition all over your work in progress. And you’re going to know you have to do the work of opening that exposition up into scene, for the good of your story.


Open your work in progress and look for a piece of exposition–a place where you’ve told something that you could show. Think about a place where you’ve glossed over some piece of backstory or jumped ahead in time. I’m confident you’ll know the exposition I’m talking about, because you’ll know that you probably should have done more with it.

You know how I feel about editing while you’re writing. (In case you’re new, I think it’s a bad idea.) So all I want you to do is highlight the scene and make a note to yourself that you need to open it up when you’re in revision. Go ahead and find a few more, if you have time.

Come over to our Facebook Group and let us know how you did.


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