One simple rule can sort even a serious ‘show, don’t tell’ obsession: so long as you’re dealing with objective facts, tell us those facts as simply and clearly as possible. You only need to make an effort to show rather than tell when you’re conveying subjective ideas.
read video transcript
‘Show, don’t tell’ is perhaps better known than any other piece of writing advice. On Creative Writing courses it sometimes becomes a mantra repeated ritualistically. But what exactly does it mean?
see show, don’t tell exercise and video transcript
Below this video there’s a passage full of over-stating – if you’re looking for a writing exercise, have a go rewriting it replacing the over-stated descriptions with something more subtle – with a true and accurate descriptions of the facts.
The smell of the pub was so vile that I nearly gagged. The noise was deafening and puddles of beer sloshed around the floor. Near the bar a group of nearly-naked women, their skirts like belts, screamed so loudly I thought glasses might shatter. I fought my way through the stench of cheap perfume and leant on the crumbling bar. The barman, a humungous knuckle-dragging lout, grudgingly poured me a beer and crashed it onto the decrepit bar, spilling most of the liquid over my feet. As soon as I sipped the beer I thought I was going to be sick. One of the women must have seen me wincing because her inch-thick layer of makeup cracked as she cackled to her cronies.
read video transcript
Want to know the sort of thing we’ll be covering in 2015? Well, our posts will be grouped into the 25 topics listed below. We won’t be doing these strictly in order, but selecting from the topics menu on the right will bring up the videos we’ve done so far in any chosen category (thus far, we haven’t done any, so save yourself a click!).
- Getting started
- Writing as communication
- Selecting your material
- Story and plot
- Elements of style
- Specific concrete detail
- Tense and Point of View
- Story time and narrative time
- Common problems
- Pet hates
- Subject and theme
- Entertaining your readers
- Short fiction
- Novel writing – mastering the narrative
- Advanced stylistics
- Getting published