Show, Don’t Tell

Show Don't TellAuthor: William Noble
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars rating
Verdict: Borrow

“Show don’t tell.”  Every novice writer has been given this advice.  I heard it over and over at the writers’ conference I went to last year.  Yet no one took the time to explain how one goes about showing instead of telling.  This is what Noble attempts to do in this novel.

Noble breaks his advice into the following sections:
– an intro that pops
– using sparing backstory
– adding tension to your story
– focusing on characters
– similes and metaphors (this I had actually heard before)
– dialogue
– melodrama
– anecdotes
– incidents
– narrative
– pacing
– specificity
– “what if” – which I learned about in Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering
– POV
– using all five senses (also mentioned at the conference)
– having a solid closing

While many of these have been previously mentioned to me, most were not presented in the context of showing, which Noble does well in this novel.  I do wish he had focused a little more on the craft and less on the examples.  While some of the examples served to drive the point home, many of the points he made were common and easy to understand.  As such, many of the examples I glazed over or skipped entirely.

Still, I thought it was a helpful novel for aspiring novelists, even if it is an older book.  I took six pages of notes and plan to refer back to them during my editing process and future writing endeavors, as “show, don’t tell” is the biggest feedback I usually get.

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