Skip navigation
Currently Being Moderated

If you?re still puzzled by the concept of show vs. tell, you?re not alone. I think many authors tell too much because they want to make sure their readers "get it." To that I say, "We get it!"

I recently finished a novel in which the author repeatedly explained why the characters were doing or feeling certain things when no explanation was necessary. As a result, I had a hard time getting through the book, and unfortunately I did not enjoy it.

Here are some examples, with some details changed:

  • I woke up the next morning with a headache from drinking too much vodka.

      The issue: I already know the character drank too much vodka, because the previous scene was all about that..

  • I pulled my hand back. Noticing the gesture, Ron asked, "You okay, beautiful?"

      The issue: I can infer that Ron noticed the gesture. If he didn't notice it, why would he ask the narrator if she is okay?

  • I looked at him and felt my cheeks flush with embarrassment.

      The issue: If her cheeks are flushing, I can infer that she is embarrassed.

  • I pulled out the pen and notepad I always kept in my purse in case I wanted to jot something down.

The issue: I know that a pen and notepad is there to jot something down.

In each of these examples, by telling me what was obvious the author pulled me out of the story. This happened over and over, and instead of getting immersed in the fiction I found myself thinking, "Why does the author keep telling me this?" You want your readers to feel engaged, so let them by trusting them to "get it."

-Maria Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

You may also be interested in?

Show vs. tell: examples

Are you breaking the show vs. tell rule in your dialogue?

1,116 Views Tags: books, writing, showing, telling, writing_advice, author_advice, show_vs._tell

Sep 25, 2017 10:13 PM anisha    says:

Thanks for info

new years Quotes

Sep 25, 2017 10:19 PM anisha    says:

Thank you!  I have read most of your tips and it has helped immensely!


christmas quotes

Sep 25, 2017 10:22 PM anisha    says:

I love Your All Post

thanksgiving images

Sep 13, 2018 4:19 AM AnnaMid    says:

Good post. Think you need to examine this guide on how to cite in ASA format as well.