As one of my critique partners, Karla has been a huge part of my writing journey. I can say with experience that she gives excellent and thorough advice. And luckily, she’s agreed to share some of that here, along with the chance to win her new picture book, Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence, a story about science and perseverance that’s definitely needed right now. See the details below on how to enter. In the meantime, enjoy Karla’s sage advice on how to show not tell.
Thank you, Karla!
Thanks for talking about this hard-to-pin-down topic of how to show not tell. With that, I’m going to turn the rest of this interview over to you to explain how to do this.
Johnell – thank you for inviting me on to your site and giving me a chance to launch my Show Don’t Tell blog series. I also appreciate the chance to share a little bit of information about my upcoming debut picture book “Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence.”
What is Show Don’t Tell?
I’ve been doing PB critiques for many years and have read hundreds of manuscripts. Time and again, the two things that come up most often in my feedback is the importance of structure and showing vs telling. Structure is fairly easy to understand, but showing is a lot more elusive and difficult to explain. I always find it easier to simply point out instances of showing (or telling) in my client’s work, and to analyze why those scenes worked (or not). Eventually, my clients begin to internalize these moments and acquire their own instinct for when they were showing vs telling.
I’ve wanted to do something similar using books that have been published and are accessible to any reader. My hope is that by understanding (and assimilating) these tips, it will become more instinctive in our own work.
I thought I’d start with my book since I know it pretty well. Also, when I wrote it, I was very deliberate about finding ways to show what I wanted to convey so it’s easier for me to point out those instances.
I do want to say, this is simply my opinion and readers are welcome to disagree. I do not claim to be an expert on this. However, to the extent this sheds some light on this very elusive but important storytelling rule, I hope it helps. Continue reading