In this video, I share two of my favorite resource books that directly (or indirectly) solve the “show, don’t tell” dilemma most writers face.
The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer, by Sandra Scofield
Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It), by Janice Hardy
Hello writers. Today I wanna tell you about two more great resource books for you to use as you move through your writing process. The two books I chose this time are to help you with the whole Show, Don’t Tell issue. Show, Don’t Tell is a phrase that we writers hear a lot, but it can be kind of unclear what that even means, let alone the fact that sometimes telling is necessary. The first book I wanna tell you about is The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield. I chose this book because part of the meaning behind show, don’t tell is grounding the reader in a time and space and moving them alongside the character moment by moment, rather than just telling it in a sentence or two what happened. This is essentially what a scene does, so this is a great resource anytime, but especially for people tackling a novel for the first time, and in the early part of the process, i e, your first draft. The Scene Book starts with the basics of what a scene is and what it includes.
Then it goes deeper into what she calls “the heart of a scene,” teaching us how to develop tension and emotion that will connect with readers. This is a bit of a denser book than my next recommendation, but it’s got lots of examples from literature and exercises that will help you get really clear on what needs to be in a scene and why. The second book I wanna tell you about is Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It) by Janice Hardy. This is also a great book to read anytime, but I think it might be practically useful most when you’re getting ready to revise. It’s full of examples and very clear, very easy to read, and it teaches you about what Shown Prose is versus what Told Prose is. The reason it’s great when you’re getting ready to revise is because it’ll help you identify Told Prose in your own work and rework it so that it’s more active and engaging for the reader.
She also helps us understand that showing and telling both have a purpose in a novel, and she equips us with the tools needed to do both effectively. Now, I’m not an affiliate for either of these two books. I just think they’re great and wanted to share them with you. If you have a resource that’s helped you understand the whole show, don’t tell concept, please let us know in the comments below. For more book recommendations and a lot of tips for writing a novel, be sure to subscribe to this channel and share it with any fellow writers. I’ll see you next time. Happy writing.