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Monday, April 15, 2013

Criticism: Telling and Showing

It’s Monday morning and I’m here to talk about criticism once more. As the weeks pass by, I work more on Dazed and I read new stories from other writers too. This experience is really helpful because it helps me understand important parts about writing and the way I think, changes a little. This time I want to share with you the biggest lesson I’ve learned from the Critique Circle: A book must not tell a story, it must show it.

I’m sure this isn’t something new for you. We all know that a good book is the one where we live the story along with the characters. We build images, we care for them and we travel in another reality with them. But if we look closer, we’ll see that these books are good because we see the story and not hear it. These books show us the story. As simple as this may sounds, it’s quite difficult to do it.

I’ve seen it a lot and in my work too. When I write, my mind is in a whole other mode and I can’t spot these things. I just sit and write the story that my characters have to tell. And when I stop, and it’s time for editing, that is the moment I’ll deal with these things. It’s what I have said before. Writing and Editing are two completely different worlds and we must do them separately. But this isn’t happening only to me. Lately I have seen it repeatedly in many other stories I read. When someone makes a critique in my story, I do the same for his/hers story too. Many times the critic points to me parts where I must show and not tell and I gladly work on those parts. The same though happens when I write a critique for them. I spot too parts where there is more telling than showing and I write my thoughts in order to help. What I’ve learned is that even if we know that we must show and not tell, even if we can spot it in other peoples’ work, it’s quite difficult to do it ourselves. Now I finally understand why people say that writers shouldn’t do the editing alone. In our stories it’s harder to be objective.

CC has proved very valuable to me and I’m really happy that I can learn and help other writers too. It’s really beautiful being able to help. We work like a big chain, we help each other and we all move forward. And we do move forward and we evolve. I saw the change with my third book. I recently started the sequel of my second book and I noticed that my mind works differently regarding my writing. That principal, show not tell, has imprinted in my head and now I do it naturally. Well, it may not be perfect yet, but it’s a start.

So, we must show people a story and let them travel along with it. Of course, a book has to have some telling too and the hardest part is to balance showing and telling, in order to have a good result. How we can to this? Well, I trust the old way: Sleeves up, and hands on the keyboard. Hard work is always effective. 

What do you think? 


  1. Nice post! I agree with you that balancing showing and telling is sometimes hard. And that's why we have editing, that's why we should let other writers see our work, because 'no man is a an Island.'

    I'm glad you're getting, as well as giving good feedback on CC. I haven't sent in any chapter yet. My PC got spoilt two weeks ago and I wasn't at home then. But I've fixed it and I'm hoping to resume blogging this week.

    1. Hi Kaykay,
      Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad that you liked the post. Balancing showing and telling is important and we must keep that in mind.
      As for CC, at first is hard to let others critique your work, but if you get over this, you'll see it's for the best. I'm sure that you'll like CC. It's very helpful. You should try it.