I was struggling to understand that writing axiom “show, don’t tell.” I read blog post after blog post but I still didn’t get it. That is, until I took Erin Dionne’s Show Don’t Tell class at the New England SCBWI. I want to share some of her pearls of wisdom:
- Show Don’t Tell is experiencing a character’s life through their own eyes in order that the reader can come to their own conclusions about this character. It’s first-personish.
- Telling is feeding information directly to the reader such as “I am lonely” or “I am sad.” It limits the relationship between the character and the reader. There’s no “why” to telling.
- Showing = Empathy towards the character.
- Showing allows for multiple interpretations.
- Showing allows the reader to watch and experience what your characters are doing.
- Showing doesn’t label the emotion. Instead, it uses action to convey emotion.
- Use the senses to show.
- Don’t tell us the reason.
- Don’t summarize at the end.
- Add dialogue.
- Use active verbs.
- Use vibrant words and images.
- Be specific.
There are some exceptions to when telling is ok:
- The readers has already seen the event/action.
- Seeing what happens takes the book in another direction.
- It’s not relevant to the story (but why is it there?)
- It’s a summary to give you a hint that will come back later such as When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
I felt overwhelming gratitude for Erin’s helpful class so when I saw that she was hosting a book party for her latest book, Secrets of a Fangirl, I wanted to be there to support her.
It turns out that I was not alone, and for similar reasons! Lynda Mullaly Hunt drove from the Cape to attend as well!
She has a new book out as well.
Secrets of a Fangirl is Erin’s 7th book!
Learn more here:
Erin Dionne’s other six books:
Erin reads from Secrets of a Fangirl here:
Q & A with Erin:
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p.s. Here are some of my lists for summer reading:
Starting Preschool or Kindergarten
By Entering Grade
Personal Recommendations from Kids
Best Read Aloud Books
Summer Reading Lists for All Ages Set During the Summer
More Summer Reading Lists
Books by Animals or Creatures
Learn About Different Cultures
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.