Novelist James Hynes on the writer’s creed to SHOW DON’T TELL



one of the most revered principles of effective writing is to show the reader what is happening rather than to tell them but there's a problem with this the problem is that it's a concept that's not very well understood by many writers now one writing instructor who offers some clarity on this topic is a novelist who goes by the name of James Heintz his thoughts on the show Don't Tell Creed I came into contact with recently and I want to share his thoughts with you let's start with a simple example that he offers of tallying versus showing the writer who tells the reader what is happening might say he was in love with her quote unquote now compare that to the writer who communicates the same sentiment by showing that writer might say and I quote he felt his face get hot when she came into the room end quote now the latter example the sentence is evocative you have an opportunity to actually see the woman come into the room and to feel the man's face get hot to show is to engage the senses of the reader the reader senses this is what makes fiction writing work but understand that the same principle is applicable to nonfiction writing and business writing albeit admittedly to a lesser extent James Heintz suggests that we make a writing more of a show don't tell affair by doing two things in particular number one offer the reader more detail give the reader lots of details number two make the scene or information more dramatic now let's start with detail regarding detail one of the signature features of evocative writing is the prolific use of detail but there's another requirement that requirement is at evocative writing be economical so that it does not overwhelm the reader with too much detail now he admits that's a tricky balance and since it's a tricky balance to get it just right in the end when Hein says is that a few well-chosen sentences or even a few well-chosen words might just do the job now by giving more detail and adding dramatization we put the reader in the scene that is the power of show don't tell writing I'm professional writing coach Mike console I hope you'll visit me at my console calm

One thought on “Novelist James Hynes on the writer’s creed to SHOW DON’T TELL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *