“Show or Tell?” : James Thayer

Have you as a writer felt dissatisfied with the quality of your output? Have you experienced a sense of inadequacy when your writing did not turn to be as great as you would have liked it to be? The chances are that your writing fell flat because you did excessive “telling” and very little “showing.”

“Telling ” and “Showing” are concepts that get hammered into the heads of every writer.  Every one has been told at one time or another, not to “tell” but to “show.” They refer to a technique that novelist Robert Sawyer says is “among the hardest for beginners to master.”

Among the many books on the subject, I was delighted to find this extremely useful book by James Thayer titled. “ Show or Tell? A Powerful Lesson on a Crucial Writing Skill.” I ordered the Kindle version on Amazon.com and was so glad I did so.

What I liked best about Thayer’s book is that it is full of examples and exercises which make you practice what you learn. As they say, practice makes perfect. You learn what it means to “tell” and how different it is to “show.”  I liked the analogy that “telling” is akin to lecturing. It is one-sided in favor of the writer.  The reader participates more when you “‘show” as they experience what the characters of your story feel, see, touch and sense. However, knowing the concept and practicing it fluently are two different things. While doing the exercises, I found out, as you will, that there is immense scope for improvement in our writing. Each version was better than the other.

Lest you go away with the message that there is no place for “telling” at all in novel-writing, Thayer explains when and where it is necessary, indeed desirable, to “tell” rather than “show.”

I won’t spoil the book for you, as it has some interesting techniques which are explained in  easy to understand ways.  I am sure reading Thayer’s book and practicing his lessons will make you a more effective novelist, as I hope it will me.

Here’s Thayer’s Author Page on Amazon. and you will find a lot of interesting and useful tips on writing novels in his blog Novel Pro.

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