The Great Show vs. Tell Debate (and how to tell which one you need)


There's a specific reason I titled this post "Show vs. Tell" rather than the more common "Show, Don't Tell." Because not all telling is bad.


Yep, the second sentence in and I'm already trying to confuse you.


To show or to tell is the great debate of creative writing. Some absolutely think you should never settle for telling. I think you can do both and you won't get eaten by a dragon.


A lot of this depends on personal preference and even the genre you're writing in. Take Harry Potter - most of the novels take place at a school, so it only makes sense that some of their subjects are told and not shown. They practice pronunciation first and then are told how to flick their wands.


They also learn through watching other witches and wizards.


One of the many issues that some people have against the "show, don't tell" rule is length. The more you show, the longer your novel, and higher the potential you might bore your reader.


This is the root of all confusion on this topic. Too much of a good thing is always a bad thing (alright, I admit it! I ate loads of ice cream yesterday).




So how do you show everything without boring the reader?


Easy.

You don't show everything.

Ok, I hope that was helpful! Bye, guys!

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Just kidding.


The trick to showing instead of telling is being specific about details necessary to your story line.