Writing Tip: Showing Vs. Telling

I love my editor. A published author is NOTHING without a good editor and I’m very lucky to have one in my writing life.

I’m working on a few projects, and hope to release the first story in my new paranormal romance series, The Guardians of Spirit Rock in the New Year. Maybe sooner, if I can learn from the awesome advice of my editor.

I wanted to share a few things I’m learning. Now, I know the difference between showing and telling in writing, but I don’t always dig deep enough. When writing a story, you need to make sure your reader can experience what’s happening. They need to feel the breeze on their face, smell the loamy ground, taste the salty sea air, and hear the cry of distant gulls.

When experiencing emotion, I often fall prey to crutch words that tell the reader, rather than allow them to experience the emotion. If you do this right, you never have to say your character is afraid. Their gut clenches, heart races, palms grow damp, the scent of their own sweat penetrates their nostrils.  Get what I’m trying to convey?

Another trick she taught me is build more into your dialogue tag than just an adverb. When a character makes a statement, go deeper, express how that statement makes your character feel. Remember the five senses and use them.

Here is an actual comment from my editor that illustrates what I mean…

This was my passage before her edit:

However, she wouldn’t need to worry for several months, another thing for which she was truly grateful. Maybe by winter, she would have established herself enough to buy a small house of her own. 


This is what my editor said:

Telling. Whenever you write “she was whatever” then a bell should go off that it’s telling the reader what she was. Instead, you need to show it. OR in this instance, you could go internal. 

I changed it to:

I guess that’s one thing to be grateful for. Maybe by winter I’ll have a house of my own.

More powerful? I think so. This may not be the best example, but I think you get the idea. Go deeper with your characters. Don’t cheat your reader by taking the easy way out.


About Kelly Abell

I am a writer, blogger, and graphic artist. My aim for you is to utilize this blog to help you improve your writing skills, and to educate you on the publishing business. If you need help with writing, want to self-publish a book and need advice, or just want to kick a story idea around to see what works best, that's what I'm here for. As I gain knowledge from editors and publishers, I will share that knowledge with you. As writers we should always strive to improve our craft and grow. A day should not pass where you haven't learned or tried something new with your writing. Many thanks to my Night Owl Friend, Lea Ellen Borg for editing my posts! Best to you and all your characters and stories. Write on, my friends...Write on.
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2 Responses to Writing Tip: Showing Vs. Telling

  1. Kelly, great post – always need to be thinking about show v. tell. The word list posts we have shared (searching for words that weaken prose) a lot of times can pinpoint telling v. showing.


  2. It’s easy to forget this advice, no matter how often we hear it.


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