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Showing vs. Telling – What Does it Really Mean?

Author Don Massenzio

show_tellWe’ve all heard this tenet of writing. Show vs. tell. My editor always hammer me for too much telling and not enough showing. I’ve really tried to work on this aspect of my writing, but, being a learning nerd, I had to know the mechanics behind it.

For one thing, you can express traits or history for your characters more succinctly by using dialogue than can be done through narrative. Here is an example.

Joe Smith was a career criminal. He had robbed several banks and had been in jail many times since his teens. As he prepared to rob the first national bank, he reflected on his past and was amused at the fact that he hadn’t learned his lesson and stayed out of trouble.

Here is the same scenario framed as a conversation that Joe is having with his brother, Jim.

“Why do you keep doing this?” Jim…

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