Resources on “Show, Don’t Tell” for Novelists by @Beth_Barany

Recently, I created a new free mini-course, The Writer Discovery Mini-Course (sign up here), and have been learning a lot about the writers sharing their replies with me.

Thanks to everyone who have been sharing their answers with me. I answer each email individually, though it may take me some time.

Just know, the very fact you take the time to answer the questions and send me the answer is an important step in making your dreams a reality.

One student asked me to share resources on “show, don’t tell,” one of the most common pieces of advice to fiction writers.

I started with my own blog, Writer’s Fun Zone, and turned up 4 posts on this important topic. Those are below.

Here’s my definition on “Show, Don’t Tell” advice, what it means, and why it’s important.

Chekhov’s quote says it well: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” — Anton Chekhov

Why is “showing not telling” so important?

When you show the moment the light glints off a piece of broken glass, you allow the reader to see it for themselves.

Here’s an example of telling and then showing:


“Henrietta left the tavern, angry and upset. Someone was behind her. Even though she was a bit drunk, she knew a knight was coming after her.”

Now the SHOW version…


“Henrietta strode away from the tavern, fists clenched so hard they hurt. At two paces from the forest edge, the ground crunched in the black night behind her. Even with her ale-fogged brain, she sensed the presence of a man, smelled on him soot, leather and metal, and knew he was armed, but wore no armor.”
— from Henrietta The Dragon Slayer by Beth Barany

In showing, readers get a chance to feel, hear, see, and smell the action.

(Note: In our fiction, there are appropriate moments to tell and not show. That post is for another time.)


4 Posts on Show, Don’t Tell

After reading these posts, what other questions do you have about “show, don’t tell”? Post in the comments.



Who am I?

Hi! I’m Beth Barany, an award-winning novelist, master neurolinguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers.

Through my courses, programs, workshops and consultations, I specialize in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.

All my courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. I run an online school for fiction writers here and a 12-month group coaching program to help novelists get published here.

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  • Mary Van Everbroeck says:

    Hi Beth: Wonderful Post. I’m looking forward to reading the resources you provide. An additional comment I’d like to share after reading this Post. For me, Showing through writing rather than Telling allows the reader to personalize the experience through his or her unique filters of understanding and perception. This is a gift we as writers can offer to our readers!

  • Ian Worrall says:

    Good advice on showing vs telling. I remember reading in the Busy Writer’s series of books on the same subject, showing is how you would experience the scene in a Star Trek Holodeck.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Mary, Yes, I agree: “Showing through writing rather than Telling allows the reader to personalize the experience through his or her unique filters of understanding and perception.” So true! Yes, this is our gift to readers.

  • Beth Barany says:

    Ian, Love that analogy with the Star Trek Holodeck. Very useful.

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