Things I Like: “Mastering Showing and Telling In Your Fiction” by Marcy Kennedy

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 8.57.01 AMIt must be “Things I Like” month. I just finished reading this short and to-the-point HOW-TO guide to improve the showing-not-telling in your writing. I emphasize the “how to” part, because I’ve read a few books on show-don’t-tell and they rarely come with lists (yes, lists!) of words, phrases, etc. that you can search for in your work to identify where you’re telling instead of showing.

The book, dubbed “A Busy Writer’s Guide” by the author, Marcy Kennedy, is a 70-page gem. It’s designed for writers who need to be writing good craft, not reading about it. I purchased a Kindle version for US $2.99.

Kennedy breaks the book down into five chapters that cover the following:

  • An explanation of show-don’t-tell and why showing is typically better
  • Eight easy ways to find telling in your writing
  • Why telling is a useful tool for first drafts (it helps you write faster!)
  • Seven situations where telling might be better than showing
  • Practical editing tips to help you with your story

And the lists! Kennedy includes pages and pages of words and phrases you should/could search for in your story to identify where you might be telling, not showing. She also has great examples of a “telling” scene that’s been rewritten into a “showing” scene, so you can see the difference.

After reading through the lists of “telling identifiers,” I went through my own WIP and found scores and scores of examples where I was telling, not showing (hey, at least I can find them now!).

This book is a quick read, it’s practical, and it’s as much about the “how to” as the “why.” I highly recommend it.

[Full disclosure: I receive no compensation — money or otherwise — for touting “Mastering Showing and Telling In Your Fiction” or any book by Marcy Kennedy.]

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