Show vs. Tell: Draw Your Reader into Your Story

Katie Phillips Creative Services

In my career as a full-time fiction book editor, I’m sometimes asked the most common problems plaguing manuscripts. And I always know exactly what to tell writers.

Show versus tell.

No matter how interesting the characters or unique the concept, telling instead of showing in your prose will kill your story everysingletime.

Most authors know showing is better than telling. They’ve read it in craft books and heard it discussed at conferences. But few people seem to know exactly what it is and how to fix the problem.

Don’t worry. I’m here to help.

How do I identify show vs. tell problems?

One way is to look for key words and phrases that can indicate the prose is telling the reader what is happening, instead of immersing the reader in the action. When I edit a manuscript, I always look for “telling” phrases like, “The woman had…

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