Show, Don’t Tell*

*Except, Tell Yourself!

Something I recognize in other writers is a propensity for self-flagellation. (Writing is, after all, such a solitary practice. If we don’t whip ourselves, who will?)

One writer recently confessed to me, “I hear this voice as I write saying, Show, don’t tell! Show, don’t tell! It seems all I’m doing is telling.”

“Fine,” I say. “Keep telling it to yourself so you can get it all down. Then walk away and visualize it as a picture you can show the reader.”

Telling is good because it is a note to the self. Showing is the picture we evoke from those notes.

photo by Bill Kaszubski
Bill Kaszubski 2019

The “how to show” may come later. But for now, welcome the telling as the acorn of the idea.

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