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The Golden Rule of Writing: Show Don't Tell!

Detail image of a classical painting in an ornate, golden dress with the words "La Dolce Vita" superimposed in the corner

The most important piece of creative writing advice you’ll ever receive? 

Show. Don’t. Tell.

You might have heard it before, but it definitely bears repeating! In a nutshell, here’s the difference between the two…

When you’re telling the story, it sounds like: 

Sally was sad. 

When you’re showing the story, it sounds like: 

Sally spent her night eating popcorn on the couch, ugly-crying and shouting at the TV that love isn’t real. 

A rather cliché example, but which “Sally” do you feel like you know better?

We’ve all probably read a book where we don’t care if the characters live or die. Usually, that’s because the author hasn’t shown us their story, so we don’t feel like we know them.

If you want people to invest in your story, you need to show it to them. Bring it to life!

(By the way, this rule absolutely still applies when everything is magical or made up – to the reader, it should still feel real!)

I dive a little deeper into this concept in episode 53 of the Vocabbett podcast, and give you a little trick for how to frame things in your head! Give it a listen below, or tune in on your favorite player.

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